Last updated: Aug 01, 2009

If your child has asthma, bring a pen and paper to the doctors office—youre going to need them. There is a dizzying array of asthma drugs that can be taken in multiple ways, so it helps to take notes. For example, your doctor may prescribe two inhalers, but they may contain different drugs used at separate times to achieve different purposes. (And when you pick them up from the pharmacist, theres no guarantee they wont look nearly identical, except for the drug name.)



Or you may receive one drug that can be taken two different ways depending on your childs symptoms—either via an inhaler or in a liquid to be used with a nebulizer, a machine that delivers aerosolized medicine.

Dont despair. Although the variety of drug names can be confusing at first, asthma medication really falls into just two types—controller medication that is taken day in and day out to fight inflammation and make it less likely for symptoms to occur, and rescue medication, or bronchodilators, that are used only to combat symptoms once they start, like coughing or shortness of breath.

Most asthma medications are delivered directly to the lungs via an inhaler or nebulizer, but some are delivered in a liquid form or a pill that can be swallowed. Make sure your doctor makes clear which drugs are controller medications and which are rescue medications, and how and when they should be taken.

It is important for children to continue taking asthma medication, even if they feel fine. Stopping a medication prematurely can lead to severe asthma attacks that require stronger drugs to get asthma under control.