Using Asthma Medications You may need medications to treat your asthma. There are two main types: for long-term control and for quick-acting short-term relief. Asthma Attacks It's important to know the early warning signs of an asthma attack so you can head it off before it becomes serious. Self-Care Work with your doctor to create an action plan to manage your asthma. It should include what to do in an emergency. Exercise and Asthma Before starting an exercise program, be sure to get your doctor's approval. Keep your asthma inhaler handy when you work out. Smoking and Asthma If you're a smoker with asthma, quitting smoking could save your life. Ask your health care provider to suggest the best method for you. Work and Asthma Occupational asthma often begins with a cough or other asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and chest tightness.