Rescue inhalers are medications used to help make asthma symptoms go away.
When you have an asthma attack, the muscles around the airway tubes become very tight, resulting in very small
airways and obstruction of air movement. This causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest
tightness, and cough. Rescue medications, also called quick-relief medications or bronchodilators, work quickly
(within minutes) to expand the airways so that air movement improves. Rescue inhalers come by many names
including Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin), Metaproternol (Alupent), Levalbuterol ( Xopenex), and Pirbuterol (Maxair).
What are the side effects of rescue inhalers?
Common side effects include the sensation of being nervous or shaky, a rapid heart rate, and nausea. Usually, these
symptoms are mild and go away as your body gets used to the medication. Occasionally, side effects can be more
severe, to include dizziness, chest pain, irregular heart beats, muscle cramping or muscle weakness. Make sure you
seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these side effects, or any other side effects not listed above .
Should I be concerned if I am using my rescue medication every day?
Yes, you should. Using a rescue inhaler frequently (more than 1-2 times/week) may be a sign that your asthma is not
under control. You should get evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible.
What is a rescue inhaler?
Rescue inhalers are good at relieving symptoms of asthma, but they are not very good
in treating the underlying asthma. That is, they are not good at preventing asthma.
Depending on the severity of your asthma, your doctor may also prescribe you asthma
controllers which are much more effective in preventing asthma attacks.