Asthma Long-term Treatments


Preventative Inhalers – Inhaled Corticosteroids
(ICS – Qvar, Flovent, Pulmicort)

Patients that are diagnosed with persistent asthma are often treated with two asthma pumps. This may cause confusion for patients and that’s why pharmacists should clarify the major differences between the two. As mentioned before, the emergency inhalers (Ventolin, Proair, and Proventil) should be used only as needed to “stop” an asthma attack. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are used for asthma prevention. Examples of ICS inhalers would be Qvar, Flovent, Aerospan, or Budesonide. They have no effect in stopping an asthma attack and should not be used as such.

Are these preventative inhalers important? Yes! If a patient’s asthma is stabilized with the correct preventative inhalers, he/she will have to use less of the emergency inhalers. One of the goals in controlling asthma, is to reduce exacerbations. A decrease in use of the emergency inhalers is a good thing!

Goals for Asthma Prevention

  • Reduce the use of emergency inhalers to less than 2 days a week
  • Prevention of an asthma relapse and rehospitalization
  • Prevent the loss of lung function
  • Maintain a normal a lifestyle

The ICS are usually dosed once to twice a day. It is very important that they are taken every day as indicated! The response time for ICS to be effective are around the first 1-2 weeks of therapy. The symptoms will improve to a maximum in 4-8 weeks. One of the most common side effects is oral candidiasis (oral thrush). It is recommended that patients brush or use mouthwash after using ICS inhalers. A simple mouthwash and brushing will prevent these creamy white lesions from forming on your tongue, mouth, or inner cheeks!

Common Side Effects

  • oral candidiasis (oral thrush)
  • nausea
  • rhinitis
  • sinusitis
  • headache
  • pharyngitis