Fast-Acting Bronchodilators for COPD
What fast-acting bronchodilators (or "rescue" or "quick relief" medications) are used to treat COPD?
There are several short-acting bronchodilators for COPD. These include:
- Albuterol (Ventolin®, Proventil®, AccuNeb®)
- Albuterol sulfate (ProAir® HFA®, ProAir RespiClick)
- Levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
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
- Last 3 to 6 hours
The products are available in several forms:
- Metered dose inhaler
- Dry powder inhaler
- 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 heartbeat, increased blood pressure
Note: The side effects listed are the most common. Always contact your healthcare 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.