There are three categories of asthma medications, according to Mayo Clinic: long-term control drugs, acute attack (rescue use) medications, and therapies for allergic asthma. Specific dosages and medications also depend on the patient's age and severity of symptoms.
Patients take long-term asthma-control medications regularly -- usually daily -- to manage and prevent symptoms, writes Mayo Clinic. Long-term control medications include inhaled cortisones, such as fluticasone (Flovent HFA) and budesonide (Pulmicort), and long-acting beta agonists. Both cortisones and beta agonists decrease swelling and tightening in the airways, and some combination medications contain both drug types. Patients may also receive leukotriene modifiers, such as montelukast (Singulair), to reduce asthma symptoms.
Quick-relief, or rescue medications, decrease worsening symptoms or halt an attack, according to Mayo Clinic. They begin working soon after administration but are not for daily use. Example medications include albuterol and levalbuterol.
Finally, some medications specifically treat asthma caused by allergies, states Mayo Clinic. Allergy shots, omalizumab (Xolair), and nasal spray antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants are all potential therapies for suffers of allergic asthma.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and constricts the airways, causing chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing, states the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. More than 25 million Americans have asthma.