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Why Are Bronchodilators Used To Treat Asthma

What Is A Bronchodilator


To understand what this medication is and how it works, let’s break down the medical term for it:

  • Broncho = Airways
  • Dilator = A substance that causes something to dilate or relax

So, a bronchodilator is simply a medicine that relaxes the muscles that surround your bronchial tubes, or airways.1 Sometimes, this happens immediately after using the medication. Other times, the effect is more long-lasting, or preventive, in nature.

What If I Dont Have A Rescue Inhaler Handy

If you are having difficulty breathing and do not have a short-acting bronchodilator with you, reaching for a long-acting medicine will not help. Try to remain calm and try these alternatives:

  • Sit up straight and try to regulate your breathing by taking slow, steady breaths.
  • Move away from any triggers, such as cigarette smoke or environmental allergens.
  • Try some caffeine, which may help open airways.

If your symptoms continue or worsen, call 911.

How Should I Take Oral Bronchodilators

Salbutamol tablets are normally taken three or four times a day. Terbutaline is usually taken three times a day, whereas bambuterol is taken once a day at bedtime .

Theophylline tablets and capsules may be taken either once a day or twice a day, depending on which brand your doctor has prescribed. It is important always to stick to the same brand of theophylline. This is because, the amount of theophylline absorbed by the body varies greatly between brands. If you start taking a different brand to the one you normally have, you may be having too much or too little theophylline. Aminophylline is usually taken twice a day.

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Who Cannot Take Oral Bronchodilators

The vast majority of people are able to take an oral bronchodilator.

How to use the Yellow Card Scheme

If you think you have had a side-effect to one of your medicines you can report this on the Yellow Card Scheme. You can do this online at

The Yellow Card Scheme is used to make pharmacists, doctors and nurses aware of any new side-effects that medicines or any other healthcare products may have caused. If you wish to report a side-effect, you will need to provide basic information about:

  • The side-effect.
  • The name of the medicine which you think caused it.
  • The person who had the side-effect.
  • Your contact details as the reporter of the side-effect.

It is helpful if you have your medication – and/or the leaflet that came with it – with you while you fill out the report.

What Kinds Of Bronchodilators Are There

Bronchodilator in the treatment of Asthma

Bronchodilator medications commonly used to treat COPD include:

  • Beta-agonist bronchodilators1
  • Anticholinergic or antimuscarinic bronchodilators1,2
  • Methylxanthines3

However, the use of methylxanthines in treating people with COPD is controversial, and they are generally only used in select cases when people have not responded to short-acting bronchodilators.3 Methylxanthines have significant side effects, and their benefits are inconsistent.

Bronchodilators are available in short-acting and long-acting forms:

  • Short-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators called SABAs for short
  • Short-acting antimuscarinic bronchodilators called SAMAs for short
  • Long-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators called LABAs for short
  • Long-acting muscarinic agonists bronchodilators called LAMAs for short

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Breathing Treatments For Asthma

Asthma treatment usually has two parts. The first involves fast-acting medication for flare-ups. The second includes preventive treatments to avoid those flare-ups.

The most common medication used to treat asthma is . Its a short-acting drug that provides almost instant relief during an asthma attack. It can be delivered through either an inhaler or a nebulizer.

How Are Bronchodilators Administered

Bronchodilators are inhaled through a device called a metered-dose inhaler. This device delivers a specific amount of medicine to the lungs. Less often, the medicine may be delivered through a nebulizer or a dry powder inhaler.6

Bronchodilators often come in an aerosol container that attaches to the canister. The spacer helps more of the drug reach the lungs rather than getting sprayed on the mouth and throat. After using a bronchodilator, all equipment should be cleaned to prevent the spread of germs. Most people take two puffs off their bronchodilator, about 1 minute apart.5

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How Are Inhalers Used To Treat Asthma

Many asthma medications are delivered using an inhaler or a nebulizer. Inhalers and nebulizers are devices that allow the asthma medications to be breathed in and go straight to the airways. There are four types of delivery devices:

  • metered-dose inhaler : a pressurized device that releases medication in a fine spray for you to inhale
  • slow-moving mist inhaler: similar to an MDI, with a slower-moving mist
  • dry powder inhaler : releases medication as a fine powder for inhaling

Visit our online store to download our free respiratory treatment poster or purchase print copies. The respiratory treatment poster is an asthma medication chart that lists asthma inhalers by brand name as well as biologic medications used to treat asthma.

How to Use a Metered Dose Inhaler

How to Use a Slow-Moving Mist Inhaler

Can I Keep Using Steroid Medications

Bronchodilators – Asthma/COPD

A few patients have told me they stopped their inhaled corticosteroid medication because they were concerned that the steroids would suppress their immune systems. Thats exactly what asthma doctors dont want to hear.

Asthma controller therapies reduce the frequency and severity of everyday asthma symptoms as well as asthma attacks. Stopping asthma controllers can increase the likelihood of a severe asthma attack when exposed to a trigger, such as a virus or allergen. An asthma attack, even if unrelated to COVID-19, may result in an emergency room visit, which can then increase risk of exposure to COVID-19.

For patients with COVID-19, the messages about corticosteroids can be confusing. In SARS and MERS, as well as emerging studies on COVID-19, corticosteroids have not been shown to have a survival benefit. The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend that corticosteroids not be used routinely to treat viral pneumonia or ARDS due to COVID-19.

However, if a patient has an asthma attack, regardless of whether the trigger is COVID-19, corticosteroids are usually effective and should be used.

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Asthma Holding Chamber Or Spacer

A valved holding chamber is a handheld device that attaches to a metered-dose inhaler and captures the medicated mist as it sprays out. The medication is trapped long enough inside the holding chamber to be inhaled at your own speed. It also pulls out large particles of medication and prevents them from settling in your mouth or throat.

A spacer is similar to a valved holding chamber, but it does not suspend the medication, so when using it you must coordinate your breath to begin slightly before actuating the MDI.

Holding chambers are available for use with and without masks. Masks are often essential for children, the elderly or disabled people who cannot close their lips securely around the mouthpiece or who need to take several breaths to inhale the medication fully.

How to use a spacer or holding chamber

How Are Inhaled Bronchodilators Given To Cats

Giving an inhaler to your cat isnt as difficult as it may seem. Inhaled medications are prescribed in the form of a metered dose inhaler . Its important to understand how to give a feline inhaler to your cat so they can receive the medication they need.

As cats cannot be instructed to take a breath to inhale the medication, they require special equipment to make sure they get the full dose of medication. The inhaler is administered to cats with a feline inhaler spacer device .

Spacer devices include a mask and a chamber so your cat can inhale the medication in several breaths. The AeroKat Chamber is designed to hold the medication in the chamber longer so more medication is available for your cat to breathe in. This is especially important because during a flare-up, your cats breathing will be faster and shallower and they will need more breaths through the chamber to empty it. As a result, it is critical to use a chamber that can hold the medication long enough for your cat to inhale the dose.

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Anesthetic Drugs And Adjuvants

Volatile anesthetics are potent bronchodilators and reduce responses to bronchoconstricting stimuli, including endotracheal intubation, in both humans and animals. Because of these bronchodilating effects, volatile anesthetics have been used to treat status asthmaticus, although their efficacy in this condition is anecdotal.

In clinical practice, isoflurane and desflurane are more irritating to the airway than halothane or seroflurane, although few differences between the bronchodilating properties of most volatile agents can be identified experimentally. This stimulation of airway nociceptors can produce coughing, breath holding, and laryngospasm, and limits the usefulness of these agents for the induction of anesthesia by inhalation. In contrast to other volatile agents, desflurane actually increases airway resistance when added to inspired gas. Thus, desflurane may not be a suitable agent for patients with reactive airways disease.

I.P. Hall, in, 2006

I.O. Gordon, … A.N. Husain, in, 2014

Drug Or Other Interactions


Patients should consult their physicians before taking any additional prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, nutritional supplements or herbal medications. Of particular concern to individuals taking bronchodilators are:

  • Antihypertensives . Bronchodilator use may lessen the effectiveness of these drugs.
  • Anti-arrhythmics . Bronchodilators used in conjunction with these drugs may lessen their effectiveness.
  • Antibiotics . These medications may interfere with the function of bronchodilators.
  • Antiseizure medications. Bronchodilator use may lessen the effectiveness of these drugs.
  • Ulcer medications. These medications may interfere with the function of bronchodilators.
  • Psychiatric medications. Use of some bronchodilators in conjunction with certain medications used to treat psychiatric disorders may lead to a potentially dangerous drop in blood pressure and/or rapid heartbeat.
  • Smoke. Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke can interfere with the way the body responds to certain bronchodilators.
  • Caffeine. Coffee, tea, colas and other caffeinated drinks can change the effectiveness of certain bronchodilators.

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Are Bronchodilators Safe To Use During Pregnancy Or While Breastfeeding

Beta-adrenergic bronchodilators

  • Beta-adrenergic bronchodilators are used for treating children. However, there are no adequate studies of beta-adrenergic bronchodilator use during pregnancy. Some reports indicate that albuterol sulfate may cause congenital defects when used during pregnancy.
  • It’s not known whether beta-adrenergic bronchodilators are excreted in breast milk.


  • The safety of anticholinergic bronchodilators in pregnant women or nursing mothers has not been adequately evaluated.

Xanthine bronchodilators

  • Xanthine bronchodilators have not been adequately studied in pregnant women. Theophylline is excreted in breast milk and may cause mild side effects such as irritability in the infant.
  • The risks to the fetus or breast-feeding infant versus the risk to the woman should be considered before using bronchodilators in pregnant women consultation with the patient√Ęs OB/GYN doctor may be advisable.

How To Use An Inhaler

Asthma inhalers are hand-held portable devices that deliver medication to the lungs. They must be used properly to help achieve the best control of asthma.

If you are using a puffer, you may benefit from using a spacer a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end to ensure the asthma medication gets into your lungs.

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Inhaled Bronchodilator Dosage For Cats

Inhaled bronchodilators are normally prescribed with a dose of 1-2 puffs per treatment5, depending on severity of symptoms and size of the cat.

Most metered dose inhalers hold 200 puffs of medication. Your vet will indicate when the medication is to be used and how many puffs to give your cat for each treatment.

How Can I Help My Cat With Asthma

Inhalers (Asthma Treatment & COPD Treatment) Explained!

Cats that experience systemic side effects from oral prednisolone, such as cardiac side effects or diabetes, can be switched to inhaled steroids, which are effective at controlling the asthma but are not appreciably absorbed into the bloodstream, lessening or mitigating their adverse effects, Plotnick said.

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How Are Bronchodilators Used To Treat Cystic Fibrosis

The CF Foundation recommends bronchodilators to be used first during daily breathing treatments so that other medications and airway clearance techniques work better. When finished with the bronchodilator, mucus thinners, airway clearance techniques, and then an inhaled antibiotic follow.2 Many people also use a bronchodilator before strenuous activities such as exercise and sex.5

Your doctor will give you specific instructions, but often a bronchodilator is used 15 to 30 minutes before daily airway clearance techniques are performed. This allows the mucus thinners and antibiotics to reach more deeply into the lungs.

Medications To Open Bronchial Tubes Wider

Bronchodilators are medications that cause the bronchial muscles to relax and, as a result, the bronchial tubes to open wider or dilate. When these muscles relax, the bronchial tubes can usually open fully again and breathing can become normal. We say usually because sometimes the bronchial tubes themselves are swollen and filled with mucus. If this swelling and plugging of the bronchial tubes is present, then a bronchodilating medication will only bring partial relief of asthma symptoms. In this case, even when the bronchial muscles are made to relax, the bronchial tubes remain partially narrowed and blocked.

In this pamphlet we discuss the various types of bronchodilating medications and their effects in asthma. First, to understand better how bronchodilators work, it is necessary to explore a little more about the bronchial muscles.

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What Kind Of Nebulizer Is Right For Me

Which kind of nebulizer is best for you depends on your lifestyle. If you are constantly on the move then a smaller model that you can fit in your bag or hold in your hand will be more convenient. If you will be taking your medication in the same place each day for example at home or the office then a bigger asthma nebulizer can be kept on the table. Whichever model you decide is right for you, the most important thing is to use it as prescribed, as it helps you breathe easy.

What Are The Uses For Bronchodilators

Bronchodilator. A young child using her bronchodilator to ...

The bronchodilators listed in this article are used for managing bronchospasm due to asthma, reactive airway disease, and exercise-induced asthma.

  • Short-acting beta-adrenergic bronchodilators and ipratropium work quickly and are used for acute management of asthma episodes.
  • Long-acting beta-adrenergic bronchodilators, tiotropium, and theophylline are used daily and long-term for preventing asthma attacks or reducing the frequency of symptoms.

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Sodium Chloride Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregiver right away if you have:

  • chest pain, trouble breathing

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out

  • swelling in your hands or feet

  • tiredness, muscle twitching

  • confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased or decreased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling.

Other common side effects may include a salty taste or slight burning or irritation in your mouth.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What Dose Should I Take

The dose prescribed usually depends on how well you respond to treatment and how old you are. Normally your doctor will start off with a low dose and increase this over a number of weeks until you find the right dose.

Getting the dose of theophylline and aminophylline just right can be tricky. The body breaks down theophylline in the liver. This metabolism varies from person to person. The blood levels of the medicine, therefore, can vary enormously. This is particularly the case in smokers, people with liver damage or impairment and in heart failure. In some conditions, the breakdown is reduced and blood levels increase. In other conditions, the breakdown is increased and so blood levels of theophylline fall. This is very important, as the toxic dose for theophylline is only just above the dose that is needed for the medicine to work well. When you first start treatment with one of these medicines your doctor will take some blood tests to make sure you are getting the right amount of medicine. This blood test measures how much theophylline is in your blood. Ideally the amount of theophylline in the blood is kept between 10 and 20 mg/L. Once you are settled on treatment your doctor may do more blood tests from time to time to check how much theophylline is in your blood.

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Steroid Inhalers Manage Inflammation

Inhaled corticosteroids help with asthma and COPD management by treating airway inflammation. Steroid inhalers deliver medicine directly to your lungs to reduce inflammation and swelling and ease breathing.

Unlike a bronchodilator, which works through the nervous system, steroids work on the inflammatory cells in your airways. Corticosteroids mimic the hormone cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone naturally produced by the body.

Steroid inhalers are not rescue inhalers and should not be used for quick relief of symptoms. It can take weeks of daily steroid inhaler use before you notice improvement. Thereafter, it may take several hours or even a day for a steroid to do its job.

Inhaled corticosteroids are delivered as a dry powder. Common steroid inhalers include:

  • Aerobid

Why Is Truneb The Best Nebulizer For Asthma

Bronchodilator in the treatment of Asthma

Our advanced nebulizer is designed for hassle-free use and maximum convenience for all ages. Its the simplest nebulizer for everyone and anyone to use. Nebulizers can help people who suffer from asthma by reducing the number and severity of attacks, and allowing you to manage your breathing better. Learn why people are calling TruNeb the best nebulizer for asthma.

Try our TruNeb nebulizer risk-free today. If youre not 100% satisfied with your purchase, well refund you or send a replacement within 30 days.

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