Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists for Long-Term Control of Asthma
Combinations of a long-acting beta2-agonist
and inhaled corticosteroid:
|formoterol and budesonide||Symbicort|
|formoterol and mometasone||Dulera|
|salmeterol and fluticasone||Advair|
Long-acting beta2-agonists are used only in combination
with a corticosteroid to treat . They are used in a metered-dose or dry
inhaler. Always read the directions to be sure you are using
the inhaler correctly.
How It Works
( ) relax the smooth muscles lining the airways that carry air to
the (bronchial tubes). This allows the tubes to stay open longer and
makes breathing easier.
Salmeterol takes about 30 minutes to
start to work. It reaches peak effectiveness after 3 to 4 hours and lasts for
more than 12 hours.
Formoterol starts to work within a few minutes. It lasts for more than 12 hours.
Why It Is Used
Long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists
are used on a daily basis to control
moderate and severe persistent . The U.S.
National Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) recommends using them
only as an addition to inhaled
corticosteroids.footnote 1 Long-acting
inhaled beta2-agonists enhance the corticosteroids' anti-inflammatory action
for controlling and preventing
asthma attacks. They should not be used as a
substitute for inhaled corticosteroids.
Different types of
medicines are often used together in the treatment of . Medicine
treatment for depends on a person's , his or her type of , and
how well the treatment is controlling symptoms.
- Children up to age 4 are usually treated a
little differently than those 5 to 11 years old.
- The least amount
of medicine that controls the symptoms is used.
- The amount
of medicine and number of medicines are increased in steps. So if is not
controlled at a low dose of one controller medicine, the dose may be increased.
Or another medicine may be added.
- If the
control for several months at a certain dose of medicine, the dose may be
reduced. This can help find the least amount of medicine that will control the
has been under
- Quick-relief medicine is used to treat
if you or your child needs to use quick-relief medicine a lot, the amount and
number of controller medicines may be changed.
Your doctor will work with you to help find the number and
dose of medicines that work best.
How Well It Works
A review of research found that
in adults with persistent who use inhaled corticosteroids but continue
to have symptoms (poorly controlled ), adding long-acting
- Improved symptoms and lung function compared
with using a corticosteroid only.
- Improved symptoms and lung
function and resulted in less use of quick-relief medicine compared with
increasing the dose of inhaled corticosteroids.
- Improved lung
function compared with adding a leukotriene pathway modifier.
A review of research found that in children with
persistent who use inhaled corticosteroids but continue to have symptoms
(poorly controlled ), adding long-acting beta2-agonists resulted
- Improved function as measured by forced expiratory volume at 1 minute (FEV1).
- More days free of symptoms (in children 4 to 16 years old).
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask yourabout the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Throat irritation and hoarseness (caused by
inhaled corticosteroids in combination medicines).
- Rapid heartbeat
- Headache and
- Nausea, vomiting, and
- Nervousness or tremor (such as
unsteady, shaky hands).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported
that these medicines may make an episode worse and may increase the risk
of death. If your wheezing gets worse after you take this medicine, call your
doctor right away.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
beta2-agonists should not be used without being combined with an inhaled
corticosteroid. If you don't take an inhaled corticosteroid, the
inflammation in the bronchial tubes may not be
controlled, and your symptoms could get worse because of decreasing lung
function and increasing inflammation.
beta2-agonists should never be used in place of a short-acting beta2-agonist to
treat . A quick-relief medicine such as inhaled albuterol should
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines,, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
- National Institutes of Health (2007). National Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of (NIH Publication No. 08â€“5846). Available online: ://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/index.htm.
- Dennis RJ, Solarte I (2011). in adults (chronic), search date April 2010. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: ://www.clinicalevidence.com.
- Turner ST, et al. (2012). and other recurrent wheezing in children (chronic), search date June 2010. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: ://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Current as of:
December 6, 2017