Asthma Capitals 2018: Long-Term Control Medicine Use

In the AAFA's Asthma Capitals 2018 ReportDownload PDF, AAFA looked at eight risk factors that can affect asthma rates: povertylack of health insurancepoor air qualitypollen countslong-term control medicine usequick-relief medicine usesmoking laws and access to specialists

You may need both controller and quick-relief medicines to manage your asthma. Controller medicines help prevent and control asthma symptoms. You may need to take this type of medicine every day for best results.

Types of controller medicines include inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). ICS medicines prevent and reduce airway swelling. They can also reduce mucus in the lungs. Combination inhaled medicines combine ICS with a long-acting beta agonist (LABA). LABAs open the airways by relaxing the smooth muscles around the airways.

Other types of controller medicines include biologics or leukotriene modifiers. Always work with your doctor to find the right medicine for you. Asthma controller medicines are prescribed for persistent cases of asthma.

Long-term control Medicine

For those with persistent asthma, controller medicines are essential to keeping symptoms under control. But they must be used regularly and consistently. Shari Duncan of Detroit, Michigan (#57 in asthma controller medicine use, but #16 overall ranking on Asthma Capitals) has had to manage not only her controller medication use, but also that of her six children who all also have asthma.

Shari takes daily asthma controller medicines, does nebulizer breathing treatments and works hard to avoid her biggest asthma triggers. She also uses her quick-relief inhaler about once or twice a week. In spite of these efforts, Shari is hospitalized for asthma four to six times a year.

As a working mom, Shari would often get up at 5 a.m. just to make sure everyone got their medicines. At night, she and her late husband “would go around to each kid in their bed, listen to see if they were wheezing and touch them to make sure they were breathing.”


Biologics are shots or infusions given every few weeks. They work by targeting a cell or protein in your body to prevent airway inflammation. They are usually only prescribed if other asthma medicines have not controlled your asthma. Talk with your asthma specialist about this option to decide if this treatment may be right for you.