Medicines for quick relief of the narrowed bronchial tubes caused by asthma include short-acting beta2-agonists. These medicines relieve sudden increases of symptoms (asthma attacks) quickly. But overuse may be harmful.
Overuse of short-acting beta2-agonists has been associated with worsening asthma and increased risk of death.footnote 1 People who have severe asthma usually are the ones at greatest risk for illness and death from asthma. They may be taking higher doses of short-acting beta2-agonists to control their symptoms instead of increasing the use of anti-inflammatory medicine such as inhaled corticosteroids.
People who overuse short-acting beta2-agonists may feel their asthma is under control when, in fact, inflammation in the airways is becoming worse, putting them in danger of a severe, life-threatening attack (status asthmaticus).
In general, you may need more long-term treatment if you are using short-acting beta2-agonists on more than 2 days a week (except before exercise). Talk to your doctor if you are using your quick-relief medicine this often. Frequent use of quick-relief medicines may mean that your symptoms and inflammation are not well controlled.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2007). Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthgdln.htm.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsDonald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerLora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and ImmunologyElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofMarch 25, 2017
Current as of: March 25, 2017
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
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