Asthma Rescue Medicine
The name of your rescue medicine is _____________________________.
What do rescue medicines do?
They open and relax the airways, making it easier for you to breathe. They also decrease coughing and wheezing. They work very quickly, within minutes.
How do I know if I need a rescue medicine?
You may need to use your rescue medicine if you have
- Chest tightness.
You may also need to use it if you can’t catch your breath.
What are some rescue medicines?
- Short acting beta-agonists:
- Albuterol (Proventil®, Ventolin®, ProAir®, AccuNeb®)
- Levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
- Ipratropium (Atrovent®)
- Albuterol can also be combined with ipratropium:
- Respimat®, Combivent® inhaler
- DuoNeb® by nebulizer
What side effects can they cause?
- Fast heartbeat
- Feeling shaky
Important things to remember about your inhaler:
- Follow the steps listed in your Asthma Action Plan for increased cough or wheeze.
- Rescue medicines are used every 4-6 hours as needed for quick-relief of asthma symptoms.
- You should always carry it with you.
- It may be used 10 minutes before exercise if activity triggers asthma symptoms.
- Shake for 5 seconds before each use.
- Avoid getting the inside of your inhaler wet because the Albuterol is powder based.
- Using a spacer will help increase the amount of Albuterol delivered to your lungs. Spacers should be washed weekly in hot soapy water, rinsed and air dried.
Please check with your pharmacist or health care provider about priming the inhaler when first opening or if you have not used the inhaler in one week.
If it seems like you need to use your rescue medicine often, more than 2 times a week other than for exercise, you should call your asthma doctor or nurse. This may be a sign your asthma is not under good control.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6732.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/16/2013
Copyright © 07/16/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6660
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