Did you know taking a daily controller medication is the best way to treat the inflammation, which is causing your asthma symptoms? Remaining adherent to your controller medication schedule — how often, what time of day, and correct technique — can greatly decrease the number of times you have an asthma attack and improve your quality of life.
If you do not currently have a controller medication, talk to your doctor to see if adding a controller therapy would be right for you.
When you first take your controller medication, you will most likely not notice a big difference in your level of asthma control — don’t give up! It usually takes a couple of weeks for the medication to start working and for the inflammation in your airways to reduce. It is important not to get frustrated and to continue the prescribed frequency and dosage that your physician has recommended.
By doing this you can look forward to:
- Fewer, if any, asthma symptoms
- Fewer, if any, nighttime awakenings
- Fewer limits on physical activities
- Fewer, if any, Emergency Room visits or hospitalizations
- Fewer or no missed days from work or school
Challenges and Barriers
Staying on Course
Do you have an asthma plan and controller medication already but struggle to stay on course with it? A great way to keep on track is to set up medication reminders within your Asthmapolis profile.
The easiest way to do this is to add an Asthmapolis sensor to your controller medication and have Asthmapolis send you a text message or email reminder when you forget to take it. Simply sign into your account and add the notification under your profile. The best part – you’ll only get these reminders when you don’t take your medication. Because your sensor records when you take your medication, it will only alert you if you have missed a dose, rather than reminding you even when you’ve taken your medication. These gentle reminders will help you achieve a higher level of controller medication adherence, and will set you on the path to a more manageable level of asthma control.
Even if you are using your medication on your prescribed schedule, you might not be receiving the full benefit of the medication if you struggle with proper technique. Here is a great video showing proper inhaler technique with a metered dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer. Another great resource is Use Inhalers, a website that offers step-by-step tutorials on inhaler technique and allows you to practice as you follow along their demonstrations.
We understand that there are financial barriers to accessing controller medication. While it’s not a structural solution, we have put together a few resources that may help reduce the monthly cost of your controller medication. If you are having trouble affording your controller medication, always let your doctor know. They may be able to provide samples or point you in the direction of other resources specific to your community.
General prescription assistance resources:
- RxAssist – online directory of national patient assistance programs (PAP’s)
- NeedyMeds – online directory of national patient assistance programs (PAP’s) as well as coupons or discounts
- Free Drug Card – patient assistance program that allows patients to create a prescription discount card
- Lowest Med – search engine that allows you to find the lowest cost of your prescription in your area; also has a prescription discount card
Coupons and Discounts for Specific Medications
- Advair Coupons and Offers
- GSK For You (Flovent, Advair)
- My Symbicort
- QVAR Patient Assistance
- Dulera Special Offers
- MERCK Patient Assistance
While controller medications can be expensive, it’s important to think about them as an investment. Spending money on a controller medication now may save your family money down the road by preventing an asthma exacerbation or a hospitalization.
Recent research has highlighed the high costs of uncontrolled asthma for families. These expenses include the medical and hospital bills, as well as the indirect costs that result from missing days of work and school. Together, these expenses amount to a total cost each year between $3,800 and $4,000, depending on where you live. For an average family, this represents over 7.2% of their annual income (based on US median income, 2011, which was $52,762). This high cost is especially worrisome because spending anything more than 5% of the household income on health care is considered unsustainable. Because they are so effective at reducing exacerbations and helping you gain control of your asthma, a controller medication is likely a worthwhile financial investment for you and your family.
*Controller medication is not a substitute for fast-acting rescue medication that should be used to quickly relieve symptoms such as wheezing or chest tightness.
*Asthmapolis does not endorse any specific medication or pharmaceutical company
Sources: Brandt SJ, Perez L, Kunzli N, Lurmann F, McConnell R. Costs of childhood asthma due to traffic-related pollution in two California communities. Eur Respir J. 2012 Aug;40(2):363-70; Mayo Clinic: Know Your Medications – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma-medications/AP00008