Asthma Question: Continue with My Controller Medicine?

Question: My asthma seems much better with a daily controller medicine. I don’t wheeze or cough often. I rarely need my quick-relief inhaler. Do I still need to take a daily medicine? 

Answer:

Sounds like the controller medicine is working! By preventing the lung from swelling, wheezes and coughing improved. The good news is your asthma may be controlled. However, there is no cure for asthma. If you just stop the controller medicine, you may have an asthma attack.  So continue your controller medicine daily until you talk to your doctor.

Once asthma is better controlled, it can take less medicine to keep it better. Taking less medicine is sometimes called “stepping-down”. Your doctor could step down by lowering the dose of medicine.  Another way is to have an inhaler with just one medicine instead of two.

Stepping down might be right for you, if, for at least three months you have:

  • Had asthma symptoms less than two days per week AND
  • Wake up fewer than two nights a month AND
  • Need  a quick-relief inhaler less than two days each week AND
  • Had less than two asthma attacks in the last year.

Asthma Friendly Pharmacy® Tips. If you think your asthma is doing well:

  • Continue to take a controller medicine daily.
  • Talk frankly to your provider about your asthma at each visit.
  • Never stop medicine or step down on your own. You might have a severe asthma attack.
  • Ask your provider if stepping down might be right you. 

Breathe your best! Don’t settle for less! 

Margaret M. Riley, Pharm.D. candidate 2014

Theresa R. Prosser, Pharm.D., BCPS, AE-C, professor of pharmacy practice

Suzanne G. Bollmeier, Pharm.D., BCPS, AE-C, professor of pharmacy practice

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