What to do when your medicine changes

Five steps to make sure you get the best from your new asthma medicine and inhaler

Health advice > Inhalers, medicines and treatments > Changing medicines

Find out how an asthma action plan, inhaler technique checks, a symptom diary, and a good routine can help you adjust to new asthma medicines, and when you should get a follow up appointment. 

On this page:

  1. Update your asthma action plan
  2. Check your inhaler technique
  3. Get into a good routine
  4. Keep a symptom diary
  5. Follow up with your GP or asthma nurse

1. Update your asthma action plan

Ask your GP or asthma nurse to update your asthma action plan with your new medicines and inhalers, and any add-on treatments, so you know how and when to take them.

An asthma action plan is one of the best ways to help you make sure your asthma stays well controlled, whatever your treatment plan or device. It needs updating any time there’s a change.

Don't forget to recycle any old plans and delete any saved on your phone or laptop, and share your new plan with family, friends, your school, or workplace.


Know what medicines to take in an asthma attack

If you've been switched to a dry powder inhaler, your GP may suggest you still use a metered dose inhaler and spacer for quick relief when symptoms get worse or you have an asthma attack. This should be written on your asthma action plan.

2. Check your inhaler technique

Ask your GP, asthma nurse, or pharmacist to show you how to use your new inhaler.

Good inhaler technique gets the medicine into the airways, where it’s needed, so you can start to see the benefits quickly. It also lowers your risk of common side effects like a sore throat or oral thrush.

Find your new inhaler in our short videos so you can see the best way to take it.

3. Get into a good routine

Whether it’s a different dose, extra puffs, or needing to get used to add-on medicines, a good routine makes it easier to follow your new treatment plan.

Try setting your phone alarm until you get used to the change. Or link taking your asthma medicines to something else you do every day, like brushing your teeth. This can help fix it into your daily routine. But don't keep your dry powder inhalers in the bathroom because the steam and damp atmosphere can damage the powder.

Keep your asthma action plan somewhere handy like on the fridge, or your phone, in case you need reminding about what medicines you need to take and when. 

4. Keep a symptom diary

A symptom diary helps you see how you’re getting on with your new medicines. Every day, make a note of any symptoms you’ve had or any improvements you’ve noticed.

For example, if you’re taking your new medicine as prescribed, and using your inhaler in the best way, you should notice improvements, such as:

  • fewer symptoms
  • sleeping better
  • finding it easier to do daily activities
  • not needing your reliever inhaler.

You can also monitor your peak flow to help you keep track of any improvements to your peak flow scores.

"When I change my inhaler or the dose of my inhaler, I make sure to keep a record of my peak flow on an app on my phone." Ione, Asthma UK volunteer. 

5. Follow up with your GP or asthma nurse

Your GP or asthma nurse should arrange a follow-up appointment with you six to eight weeks after you start taking your new medicine or using a new inhaler. Don’t forget to take along your medicines, your symptom and peak flow diaries, and your asthma action plan.

This appointment is to see how you’re getting on with the change, and if there’s been any improvement or if you’ve noticed symptoms getting worse. You can also talk about any side effects you’ve noticed.

  • If your new medicines or inhaler are working well, you can carry on with them, and see your GP or asthma nurse again at your routine annual review.
  • If you’re not getting on well with your new medicines or your new inhaler, your GP or asthma nurse can consider other treatments or an easier device.  

See your GP or asthma nurse urgently if

your symptoms are getting worse, or you’re using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week. Don't wait for your follow up appointment.


Find out more about why your medicines might change.

Get answers to your concerns about changing your medicines and inhalers.


You can also get advice and support about your asthma medicines by calling a respiratory nurse specialist on our Helpline, 0300 222 5800 (9am-5pm; Monday-Friday). Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.


Last updated November 2021

Next review due November 2024

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