Medication, generally asthma inhalers, play a very important role in the day-to-day management of asthma.

It is important that you understand how your medicines or asthma inhalers work, and then take them as prescribed.

Make sure that you are well-organised when it comes to your medication and ensure that you never run out.

Check out the guide below


The type of device used must suit the child’s age and ability. Your doctor, nurse or asthma educator will explain your choices. For a general guide read more

Preventer inhalers

Preventer inhalers are probably your most important asthma medication, because they treat the inflammation inside your airways, and reduce the likelihood of an asthma exacerbation. Read more

Reliever inhalers

Reliever inhalers bring short term relief from asthma by relaxing the tight bands of muscle around your airways. This helps air flow in and out of your lungs more freely. Read more

Combination inhalers (preventers)

Combination inhalers contain both preventer and long acting reliever medicine in one device. Combination inhalers should be taken regularly as prescribed, but not used in emergency situations. Read more


Prednisone is used in severe episodes of asthma. It works slowly over several hours to reverse the swelling of the airways. Prednisone needs to be continued for several days after your asthma symptoms settle to make sure that the swelling doesn’t return. Read more

Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs)

Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs) are sometimes called aerosol inhalers. When the inhaler is pressed, a measured dose of medicine is released through the mouthpiece. It is recommended that MDIs are used with a spacer no matter what your age. Read more

Dry Powder Inhaler

Dry Powder Inhalers are breath activated inhalers. In New Zealand, the most common dry powder inhaler is the Turbuhaler, which is a breath activated inhaler with no propellant or carrier added to the medicine. Read more

Using a nebuliser

A nebuliser works by turning liquid medicine into a fine mist which you can breathe easily into the lungs. A nebuliser can be useful for people with asthma, however many clinical trials have found spacers (used with a reliever) to be equally as effective. Read more

Useful Resources

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Managing Your Childs Asthma Booklet Cover

Managing your child's asthma

The “Managing your child’s asthma” resource teaches parents/whānau about asthma including how to help prevent an asthma attack. Also available in English, te reo Māori, and Samoan.

Asthma Checklist Cover

Asthma checklist

Use this checklist of preventative measures to help reduce the risk of asthma-related sickness.