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Short-Acting Beta-Agonists

Short-acting beta-agonists works quickly to relieve acute symptoms of shortness of breath. Beta-agonists relax the smooth muscles around the airways. Your doctor may prescribe a beta-agonist to use as needed to relieve acute symptoms of shortness of breath. If you use this medicine for shortness of breath more than twice a week talk with your doctor.  If you use more than one of these metered-dose inhalers in a month, also talk with your doctor. It is a sign that your lung disease is poorly controlled and your long-term control medications may need to be adjusted.

Medicine name

How the medicine works

How the medicine is used

  • Maxair Autohaler® (pirbuterol)
  • Proventil HFA®, ProAir®,
    and Ventolin HFA® (albuterol)
  • Xopenex® (levalbuterol)
  • Works quickly to relieve acute attack symptoms
  • Relax the smooth muscles around the airways
  • Side effects may include: increased heart rate, shakiness, nervous, jittery feeling
  • Available as MDI, nebulizer solution
  • Usually prescribed on an as needed basis to relieve acute attack symptoms.
  • May be prescribed as a "pre-treatment" before exercise to prevent symptoms of shortness of breath.
  • If you use this medicine for shortness of breath more than twice a week talk with you doctor.  If you use more than one metered-dose inhaler a month, also talk with your doctor or healthcare professional. This is a sign that your lung disease is not under good control and your long-term control medicine needs to be adjusted.

This information has been approved by Ronina Covar, MD and Ann Mullen, RN, MSN, CNS, AE-C (December, 2012).

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