What is inhaled quick-relief medicines?

Bronchodilator, short-acting, for children: Overview

Bronchodilators are medicines that make it easier to breathe. They relax the airways of the lungs.

Short-acting bronchodilators work fast. They treat sudden breathing problems, like asthma attacks or wheezing. They aren't the same as long-acting bronchodilators. These are used every day to control asthma.

These short-acting medicines are often inhaled. They also come in the form of pills or liquids.

What are some examples of inhaled quick-relief medicines for asthma?

Here are some examples of inhaled quick-relief medicines. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.

  • albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
  • levalbuterol (Xopenex)

This is not a complete list of these medicines.

How do inhaled quick-relief medicines for asthma work?

Inhaled quick-relief medicines relax the muscles lining the airways that carry air to the lungs. This helps increase airflow. These medicines work within 5 to 15 minutes.

How can you safely give short-acting bronchodilator medicine to your child?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • If your child uses an inhaler and spacer, talk with your doctor to be sure that you know how to use them the right way. Be sure your child uses them exactly as your doctor has prescribed.
  • Try not to give your child an inhaled medicine when your child is crying because not as much medicine gets into the lungs.
  • Pay attention to how often your child needs to use this medicine. Does your child need to use it more than 2 days a week within a month (except before exercise)? If so, your doctor may need to change the amount and number of controller medicines your child takes.
  • Let your doctor know if your child has side effects from the medicine. These may include:
    • A fast heartbeat.
    • Headache and dizziness.
    • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
    • Anxiety.
    • Hives and skin rash.
    • Nervousness or tremor (such as unsteady, shaky hands).

What are some cautions about inhaled quick-relief medicines for asthma?

It’s possible to overuse quick-relief medicines for asthma. You may be using too much of your quick-relief medicines if you are using them on more than 2 days a week for symptoms of an asthma attack (except before exercise). Talk to your doctor if you are using them this often. It may mean that your asthma symptoms and inflammation are not well controlled.

Why are inhaled quick-relief medicines for asthma used?

Inhaled quick-relief medicines are used to help you breathe during an asthma attack. They may also be used before exercise to prevent asthma symptoms. And they may be used to treat people who have only mild asthma symptoms now and then. (This is called intermittent asthma.)

Bronchodilator, short-acting, for children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include the chest sinking in, using belly muscles to breathe, or nostrils flaring while your child is struggling to breathe.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has an asthma or wheezing attack and the medicine doesn't help.
  • Your child coughs up yellow, dark brown, or bloody mucus (sputum).

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child's wheezing and coughing get worse.
  • Your child needs quick-relief medicine on more than 2 days a week within a month (unless it is just for exercise).
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as a fever.

What are the side effects of inhaled quick-relief medicines for asthma?

You may get anxious or have tremors (for example, you may have unsteady, shaky hands) when you use inhaled quick-relief medicines. You may also have a rapid heartbeat or palpitations.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.