Fast Acting Bronchodilators for COPD
What fast-acting bronchodilators (or "rescue" or "quick relief" medications) are used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
There are several fast-acting bronchodilators for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These include:
- Albuterol (Ventolin®, Proventil®, Airet®)
- Albuterol sulfate (ProAir HFA®)
- Levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
- Metaproterenol sulfate (Alupent®, Arm-a-Med®, Metaprel®)
- Pirbuterol acetate (Maxair®)
- Terbutaline sulfate (Brethair®, Brethine®, Bricanyl®)
- Bitolterol mesylate (Tornalate®)
What do fast-acting bronchodilators do, and how are they supplied?
These medicines do the following things:
- Quickly relax muscles that tighten around the airways, making the airways wider and breathing easier
- Help clear mucus from the lungs-as the airways open, the mucus can move more freely and can be coughed out more easily
- Relieve acute shortness of breath
The products are available in several forms:
- Metered dose inhaler
- Rotahaler inhalation device
- Nebulizer solution
What are the possible side effects of fast-acting bronchodilators?
These symptoms are temporary and may include:
- Dizziness, headache
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea, vomiting
- Nervousness, tremor
- Palpitations, rapid heart beat, increased blood pressure
Note: The side effects listed are the most common. Always contact your health care provider if you have questions about your personal situation.
How and when do you take fast-acting bronchodilators? Are there special instructions?
- These products should be taken before other inhalers.
- Use to quickly relieve shortness of breath.
- Swallow any tablets whole; do not chew or crush tablets.
- American Lung Association. Lung Disease. Treatments Accessed 06/18/2013.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Treatments Accessed 06/18/2013.
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