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Asthma Treatment Goals

British Columbia Specific Information

Asthma is a common chronic condition that causes your airway to narrow and swell. You may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing, and wheezing. Symptoms may range from being mildly annoying to deadly. For this reason it is important to speak with a health care provider if you think you may have asthma.

For more information about asthma, visit our Asthma Health Feature. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.​


The goals for asthma treatment fall into two main areas. They are controlling asthma symptoms and reducing the risk for future problems.footnote 1, footnote 2

Controlling symptoms

Many people with asthma can get their symptoms under control by avoiding things that might cause an asthma attack and using medicines. Asthma treatment should help you achieve good control of symptoms during the day, at night, and after exercise. These symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

When symptoms are under control, many people with asthma can do all the things they enjoy. And having control of asthma symptoms reduces the risk of future asthma attacks. Your asthma is well controlled if you:

  • Have daytime asthma symptoms 2 days a week or less.
  • Don't wake up at night because of your asthma more than 1 time a week.
  • Use a quick-relief inhaler 2 days a week or less. This does not include using your inhaler before exercise to prevent symptoms.
  • Can exercise, work, and go to school at your normal activity level.
  • Have lungs that are working as well as they can.

Reducing future problems

Another goal for treatment is to reduce the risk of having future asthma attacks. Smoking, vaping, and not using your inhalers correctly increase your chance of getting asthma attacks even if you have few or no asthma symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting smoking or vaping. They can also teach you how to use your inhalers correctly.

Other goals of treatment are to prevent your lungs from getting worse and to have no side effects—or the fewest possible side effects—from your medicines.

Talk with your doctor about any other wishes or needs you may have for treating your asthma. They can be part of your shared goals.



  1. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) (2022).Global strategy for asthma management and prevention. Accessed May 16, 2022.
  2. Yang CL, et al. (2021). Canadian Thoracic Society 2021 guideline update: Diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers, children and adults. Canadian Journal of Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, 5(6): 348–361. DOI: 10.1080/24745332.2021.1945887. Accessed December 19, 2022.


Current as of: November 14, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Hasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
JoLynn Montgomery PA - Family Medicine
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine