What Are the Different Types of Rescue Inhalers?


Quick Answer

There are three main types of asthma rescue inhalers: beta-agonists, anti-cholinergics and theophylline, according to WebMD. Inhalers can be short-acting or long-acting. Albuterol is the most commonly used rescue inhaler medication.

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What Are the Different Types of Rescue Inhalers?
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Full Answer

Albuterol, which is sold as AccuNeb, Proventil HFA, Ventolin and ProAir HFA, is the most common beta-agonist bronchodilator, and it provides rapid, short-acting relief from chest tightness, coughing and wheezing caused by common asthma triggers, according to WebMD. Beta-agonists work by relaxing the smooth bronchial muscle in the lungs, which allows more oxygen into the lung during breathing and opens the airways. Other short-acting bronchodilator inhalers include terbutaline, pirbuterol and levalbuterol, all of which are only available with a prescription.

Long-acting bronchodilators are also available, reports WebMD. These bronchodilators are used alongside inhaled steroids to control symptoms of asthma over the long term and are typically prescribed for use twice daily. Some of the most popular include Symbicort, Dulera and Advair. Some other long-acting formulas include Foradil and Serevent. A long-acting bronchodilator for use in nebulizing machines is Perforomist, which is a formoterol solution.

Anti-cholinergic bronchodilators are used mainly for treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and are not usually prescribed for use in treating asthma, advises WebMD. This type of bronchodilators includes brands such as Spiriva or Atrovent.

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