Site Map

Asthma - quick-relief drugs

Asthma - quick-relief drugs - short-acting beta-agonists; Asthma - quick-relief drugs - bronchodilators; Asthma - quick-relief drugs - oral steroids; Asthma - rescue drugs; Bronchial asthma - quick relief; Reactive airway disease - quick relief; Exercise-induced asthma - quick relief

Images

Asthma quick-relief drugs

Description

Asthma quick-relief medicines work fast to control asthma symptoms. You take them when you are coughing, wheezing, having trouble breathing, or having an asthma attack. They are also called rescue drugs.

These medicines are called "bronchodilators" because they open (dilate) and help relax the muscles of your airways (bronchi).

You and your health care provider can make a plan for the quick-relief drugs that work for you. This plan will include when you should take them and how much you should take.

Plan ahead. Make sure you do not run out. Bring enough medicine with you when you travel.

Short-acting Beta-agonists

Short-acting beta-agonists are the most common quick-relief drugs for treating asthma attacks.

They can be used just before exercising to help prevent asthma symptoms caused by exercise. They work by relaxing the muscles of your airways, and this lets you breathe better during an attack.

Tell your provider if you are using quick-relief medicines twice a week or more to control your asthma symptoms. Your asthma may not be under control, and your provider may need to change your dose of daily control drugs.

Some quick-relief asthma medicines include:

Short-acting beta-agonists may cause these side effects:

Oral Steroids

Your provider might prescribe oral steroids when you have an asthma attack that is not going away. These are medicines that you take by mouth as pills, capsules, or liquids.

Oral steroids are not quick-relief medicines but are often given for 7 to 14 days when your symptoms flare-up.

Oral steroids include:

Related Information

Asthma
Allergies
Asthma in children
Asthma and allergy resources
Wheezing
Asthma - child - discharge
Asthma - control drugs
Bronchiolitis - discharge
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
Exercising and asthma at school
How to use your peak flow meter
Make peak flow a habit
Signs of an asthma attack
Stay away from asthma triggers
How to use a nebulizer
Asthma and school
How to use an inhaler - no spacer
How to use an inhaler - with spacer
Asthma in adults - what to ask the doctor
Asthma in children - what to ask your doctor

References

Bergstrom J, Kurth SM, Bruhl E, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement website. Health Care Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. 11th ed. www.icsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Asthma.pdf. Updated December 2016. Accessed February 3, 2020.

Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Asthma. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 78.

Papi A, Brightling C, Pedersen SE, Reddel HK. Asthma. Lancet. 2018;391(10122):783-800. PMID: 29273246 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29273246/.

Vishwanathan RK, Busse WW. Management of asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O'Hehir RE, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 52.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 1/13/2020  

Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2021 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.