Asthma Treatment - Quick Relief Medications - Short-Acting Beta Agonists

With asthma, it is always useful to carry quick relief medications for that unforeseen moment when you need something fast acting. Short Acting Beta Agonists are popular for this reason.

Common Forms - The forms in which they are available include liquid, pills, inhaled and injectable. For the inhaled form, it is usual to get MDIs or metered dose inhalers, and for the liquid form, nebulizers that are compressor driven are common. It is important that the instructions are studied properly to ensure that the inhaler is used correctly.

Working - Short Acting Beta Agonists are, basically, bronchodilators. This means that they successfully relax airway muscles responsible for carrying air to the bronchial tubes (lungs). They do this pretty quickly, within a matter of 5 minutes and thus, airflow improves for the asthma patient and helps them to breathe easily. Asthma symptoms can be handled for about 3 - 6 hours successfully with Short Acting Beta Agonists but inflammation cannot be controlled.

Patient Conditions and Purpose - Short Acting Beta Agonists can help deal with asthma attacks by offering quick relief.

Before exercising, they can be used for preventing symptoms of asthma. Also, intermittent asthma symptoms are also treated using Short Acting Beta Agonists. The most preferred form is the inhaled form because, as compared to liquid or pills, this opens the bronchial tubes much better and sooner. Also, it requires a lower dose for doing so. The side effects of this form are also less. At the same time, the duration for which the effects last is the same as other forms.

Treatment Procedure - For controlling the symptom of asthma, the goal is to use medication in the smallest amounts possible which is why Short Acting Beta Agonists are so successful. There is a gradual increase in the amount of medication. First, a lot dose is tried and if it is unsuccessful in dealing with the symptoms, it is increased in steps. Sometimes, other medicines can also be used for the same. If a medicine and its dose are successful in controlling the symptoms for several months, the dose is reduced to ensure that only the smallest amount of medication is used. The treatment for children under the age of 4 years is different for children in the 5 - 11 years age group.

Effectiveness - The effectiveness of Short Acting Beta Agonists, especially in combination with ipratropium has been shown to have pretty effective results for severe and acute asthma episodes. They have resulted in:

  • Improved and better lung function; and
  • Fewer visits to the hospital.

Side Effects - Side effects usually last for a short time and after prolonged use, they go away. The common side effects include:

  • Dizziness;
  • Headaches;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Anxiety;
  • Tremors;
  • Nervousness.

Inhaled form has much less side effects as compared to other forms like pills, injections and liquid.

Overusing Short Acting Beta Agonists can reduce their effectiveness and thus, the doctor should always be consulted before varying the dosage.