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While relievers help you treat the symptoms of asthma, controller medications help to treat the underlying inflammation of the airways in a person with asthma. By controlling the inflammation, asthma symptoms will diminish and attacks can be prevented.

When you start taking controller medications, you may not notice a difference right away. It may take a few weeks before the inflammation in your airways is reduced. Even if you do not feel better right away, do not stop taking your controller medication unless your doctor tells you to.

Remember, controllers do not immediately relieve wheezing, coughing or chest tightness, and should not be used to treat a severe asthma attack. Make sure you understand the difference between your reliever medication, which provides quick relief during an asthma episode, and your controller medication, which controls your underlying inflammation so that you’re less likely to experience these symptoms in the first place.

Having asthma means having long-term inflammation (swelling) in your airways. Avoiding your asthma triggers by modifying your environment is an important way to help reduce this swelling, but it is often not enough to achieve and maintain optimal asthma control. Regular use of controller medications will treat the persistent inflammation of the airways.