Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What are Asthma Rescue Inhalers?

Asthma rescue inhalers

Rescue inhaler medications also called quick-relief or fast-acting inhaled medications, work immediately to relieve asthma symptoms when they occur. They're often inhaled directly into the lungs, where they open up the airways and relieve asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, often within minutes. But as effective as they are, rescue inhalers don't have a long-term effect. 

The most-prescribed rescue medications are quick-acting bronchodilators (usually given through an inhaler or a nebulizer), which loosen the tightened muscles around inflamed airways. The most common of these, beta2-agonists, are related to adrenaline and usually work within minutes to provide temporary relief of symptoms in asthma.

Rescue inhalers come by many names including Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin), Metaproternol (Alupent), Levalbuterol (Xopenex), and Pirbuterol (Maxair).

A quick-relief inhaler for asthma: ProAir HFA is a quick-relief inhaler for asthma attacks. It works by opening up your airways, helping you to breathe. ProAir HFA may also help you if you have asthma symptoms related to exercise-induced bronchospasm.

Most fast-acting inhalers contain a medicine called Albuterol. Albuterol inhalers relieve bronchospasm. You may hear Albuterol inhalers being called by other names, including:

  • Rescue inhalers
  • Quick-relief inhalers
  • Fast-acting inhalers
  • Bronchodilators

No matter what you call them, the purpose of Albuterol inhalers is to quickly open the airways in your lungs so you can breathe more easily.

VENTOLIN HFA is an Albuterol inhaler that helps relieve bronchospasm and its symptoms.

VENTOLIN HFA acts within minutes, and asthma symptom relief should last 4 to 6 hours.

Side Effects of Rescue inhaler medications are:

  • rapid heart rates
  • restlessness
  • headache
  • muscle tremors
  • low potassium
  • sleep disorders

Your health care provider has a number of different quick relief medications to help treat your asthma. You likely will use a SABA as part of your asthma care plan, but overuse is a sign of asthma poor control. Your health care provider may also use steroids and anticholinergics in specific situations if your asthma has worsened. Understanding the role of each of these inhaled medications and their potential side effects will help you gain better control of your asthma.