Breath of Fresh Air: Feature Articles

Chapter 45: My doctor prescribed my asthma medication to be taken twice a day. Do I need to take each dose exactly twelve hours apart?

None of the asthma medications prescribed by your physician needs to be taken exactly twelve hours apart. Twice-a-day usually means morning and evening, on arising and on going to bed, or even at breakfast and supper. For most of us, it is more convenient to remember to take our medicines according to some routine in our lives (for example, with teeth brushing in the morning and before bed) rather than by the clock. Even if this means taking our medications at intervals of 16 and 8 hours rather than precisely 12 hours apart, no harm is done.

Too often, if we try to take medicines according to a strict schedule dictated by the clock, we wind up omitting doses. When 12 hours have passed after the first dose, we may be out of the house, away from our medicines, or asleep. Then too much time passes until we can take our second dose of medicine that day, and so it is skipped. For twice-daily medication schedules, it is best to take both doses on the same day, separated by at least 6 hours. Simply find a convenient schedule that fits with your daily routine and that makes medication taking part of the routine.

Asthma medications prescribed to be taken regularly twice each day are called "controller" medications. They are taken to keep your asthma under control: thay is, to prevent or minimize symptoms of your asthma and to keep you free of asthmatic attacks. Examples of controller medications that may be prescribed for twice-a-day use include the following:

  • Inhaled steroids such as Aerobid®, Azmacort®, Beclovent®, Flovent®, Pulmicort®, and Vanceril®
  • The long-acting inhaled bronchodilator, Serevent®
  • The long-acting oral bronchodilator, theophylline (such as Theodur®, Slo-Bid®, Slophylline®, and others)
  • The leukotriene blocker, Accolade®