What are short-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Short-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators can quickly relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack. They open up the breathing passages and relieve asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Most people with asthma use an inhaler or nebulizer to relieve an attack. Oral medications are available for those who cannot use inhaled medications.

Several inhaled short-acting beta-agonists are available in the US. These include albuterol (Accuneb, Proair, Proventil, Ventolin, Vospire), levalbuterol (Xopenex), metaproterenol, and pirbuterol (Maxair). Some other products combine albuterol with ipratropium, a different kind of bronchodilator drug, in a single inhaler (Combivent, DuoNeb). 

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