Relievers are used to quickly alleviate asthma symptoms. They do this by relaxing the bands of muscle that surround the airways. However, they do not reduce inflammation in the airways - to treat inflammation, you will need to take a controller medication.
Relievers have a number of different names. You may hear them called:
- Short-acting bronchodilators (bron-ko-di-la-tors)
- Rescuers or rescue medication
Examples of reliever medications include:
- Fenoterol (sold as Berotec®)
- Formoterol (sold as Foradil®, Oxeze®)
- Ipratropium (sold as Atrovent®)
- Isoproterenol (sold as Isuprel®)
- Orciprenaline (sold as Alupent®)
- Salbutamol (sold as Ventolin® HFA, Apo-Salvent® CFC Free, Ratio-Salbutamol HFA)
- Terbutaline (sold as Bricanyl®)
Relievers are safe but, as with any medication, you should never take more than you need. Possible side effects of relievers include:
- Increased heart rate
- Tremor (i.e., shaky hands)
- Some reports of 'hyperactive' behavior in childern
Only take your reliever medication when you're experiencing asthma symptoms or if prescribed, before you exercise. Since you can never be sure when symptoms will happen, keep your reliever medication with you at all times. That way you won't be caught off-guard.
If you find you're using your reliever medication four or more times a week (not counting before exercising), it means your asthma is not well-controlled. Talk to your doctor to see about a controller medication adjustment.