Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 5, 2015

How do I know if my controller medicine is working?

It's hard to know if some medications are working, because you may not feel any different. 

However, you STILL have to take them unless your doctor tells you to stop.

Some of those medicines that work (even though you can't tell) are:
  • Blood pressure lowering medications
  • Cholesterol lowering medications
  • Asthma controller (or maintenance medications)  

So, why should you keep taking your asthma maintenance medicine, even if you aren't feeling any different? With asthma, you can get swelling in your lungs (which you can't see or feel.)

Mayo Clinic explains it this way:

"Inhaled corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory drugs are the most effective and commonly used long-term control medications for asthma. They reduce swelling and tightening in your airways. You may need to use these medications for several days to weeks before they reach their maximum benefit. " (They are referring to corticosteroids such as):

  • Fluticasone (Flovent Diskus)
  • Budesonide (Pulmicort)
  • Mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler)
  • Beclomethasone (Qvar)
  • Ciclesonide (Alvesco)

Doctors also use bronchodilators, which:

"Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs): These bronchodilator (brong-koh-DIE-lay-tur) medications open up narrowed airways and reduce swelling. Their effects last at least 12 hours, and they're used to control moderate to severe asthma and to prevent nighttime symptoms. LABAs are used on a regular schedule along with inhaled corticosteroids. Although they're effective, they've been linked to severe asthma attacks. For this reason, LABAs are taken only in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid." 
  • Salmeterol (Serevent)
  • Formoterol (Foradil, Perforomist)

"Your doctor can also give you a medication which combines the corticosteroid and bronchodilator:
Some inhaled asthma medication combinations contain both a corticosteroid and a bronchodilator:"
  • "Fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus)
  • Budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort)
  • Mometasone and formoterol (Dulera)"
"As with other LABA medications, these inhalers may increase your risk of having a severe asthma attack and should be used with caution."

"Leukotriene modifiers
These medications block the effects of leukotrienes, immune system chemicals that cause asthma symptoms. Leukotriene modifiers can help prevent symptoms for up to 24 hours. Examples include:
  • Montelukast (Singulair)
  • Zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • Zileuton (Zyflo)
In rare cases, montelukast has been linked to psychological reactions, such as agitation, aggression, hallucinations, depression and suicidal thinking. See your doctor right away if you have any unusual reaction."

So, those are all of the controller (or maintenance) medications. 

As you can tell from the info from Mayo Clinic, it's important to take them because they help keep the swelling down in your lungs and open up narrowed airways.

Everyone with asthma is different, and your doctor has to decide the best treatment plan for you. But we have found that if I or the kids weren't taking their medicine every day, we would start to have an increase in symptoms. (Coughing, tight chest, short of breath)

We also had 12 hospitalizations for asthma over the years, and some of those were because my son or daughter wasn't taking their medicine every day. They developed swelling and narrow airways, so when they caught a cold, it turned into pneumonia and another hospitalization.

We now all take our maintenance (or controller) medications EVERY day.

Call me picky, but I kind of like to keep breathing....


  1. Our allergist says we can take a break from Pulmicort for the summer but I am not sure if I feel comfortable with this. On one hand, it's nice to give my son a break from the daily medication, but on the other hand, if he catches a cold it may lead to wheezing and the need for prednisolone.

    1. If you don't feel comfortable, tell your doctor why. Our allergist ALWAYS listens to any concerns we have.

      As a mother, you know your child and his symptoms. If you have any concerns, call him and see what you can decide together. It's a team effort to keep you son healthy! :)