Abstract Asthma has become an important public health issue worldwide and certain groups, such as children, are at particular risk of the disease. Often asthma remains under-diagnosed and under-treated. Despite these worrying trends, the disease management approach to asthma control can help most asthma patients achieve a ‘normal’ way of life. The increased prevalence and greater diagnostic awareness of asthma have placed increased demands on healthcare resources, but effective asthma control can minimize the personal, social and economic burdens of asthma. Early diagnosis and immediate anti-inflammatory treatment is the f rst step in gaining control of symptoms. A stepwise approach is then used to classify asthma severity and treatment, with the number and frequency of medications increasing (step up) as asthma severity increases and decreasing (step down) when asthma is under control.This stepwise approach to asthma management necessitates regular review of treatment once asthma is under control. However, effective asthma management is dependent on successful patient education, adherence to prescribed medication and good doctor-patient partnerships. Current treatment guidelines recommend the use of a written asthma management plan that should be agreed between the doctor and patient. These plans should cover all aspects of asthma treatment, including prevention steps for long-term control and action steps to stop attacks once a worsening in asthma has been recognized. This comprehensive approach to asthma management increases the likelihood of achieving asthma control, which in turn reduces the need for emergency visits to the hospital or clinic and reduces the limitations on physical activity previously imposed by the condition.