Mild and infrequent attacks of asthma are just treated with a reliever, eg Ventolin HFA. It is wise to have an inhaler with you at all times, since attacks can be unpredictable. If there are certain things that always cause you to have an asthma attack, such as sport, you might try taking a dose of your reliever before you start your sport. This is better than waiting until you get breathless.
If recommended by your doctor, preventers (eg Flovent, Pulmicort, Advair, Tilade, Singulair) should be used every day, regularly. They should be taken whether or not you feel breathless. They will help you to reduce the number of asthma attacks you get. If you use both a reliever and a preventer, always use your reliever inhaler first and follow up with the preventer 2 to 4 minutes later. This will give you the best effect by allowing the preventer to penetrate deeper into the air passages. Each type of inhaler device is different. Read the instructions carefully. If you are not sure, ask your pharmacist, doctor or practice nurse how it works.
You may need to discuss different types. Adding a “spacer” to your inhaler may make it more effective, too. If you find that your usual dose of reliever does not help as it should, see your doctor straight away. Your asthma may be getting worse: you may need to have steroids by mouth. High doses are given for a few days. They are then either stopped or gradually reduced over a couple of weeks. A very small number of people with asthma need longer-term steroids.