Bronchodilators help open the airways in the lungs by relaxing smooth muscle around the airways. Bronchodilator medication can be short or long acting. There are different types of short or long acting bronchodilators that work in different ways.


Short-Acting Bronchodilators  (Short acting beta agonists, SABA & short-acting muscarinic antagonists, SAMA)

These medications work quickly (within 15-20 minutes) to help decrease shortness of breath. Your doctor may prescribe these as-needed to decrease shortness of breath. They may also be prescribed before exercise.

SABA (Short-acting inhaled beta-agonists) include:

  • Proventil HFA®, ProAir®, Ventolin HFA® (albuterol). Take with MDI or RespiClick®.

  • Xopenex HFA®, Xopenex® (levalbuterol), Take with MDI or nebulizer.


SABA & SAMA (Short-acting muscarinic antagonist) combination bronchodilators include:

  • Combivent® (albuterol and ipratropium), Take with Respimat®.

  • Duoneb® (albuterol and ipratropium) Take with nebulizer.



Long-Acting Bronchodilators

These medications are long-acting. Long-acting bronchodilators are used regularly to open the airways and keep them open.

Long-acting bronchodilators can be either LABAs (long-acting beta2 agonists) or LAMAs (long-acting muscarinic antogonists). LABA and LAMA are types of bronchodilators:

LAMAs include:

  • Incruse® (umeclidinium), Take once daily using Ellipta®.

  • Seebri® (glycopyrronium), Take twice daily using Respimat®.

  • Spiriva® (tiotropium), Take once daily using Respmat® or Handihaler®.

  • Tudorza® (aclidinium), Take twice daily using Pressair®.


LABAs include:

  • Arcapta® (indacaterol), Take once daily using Ellipta®.

  • Brovana® (arformoterol), Take twice daily using nebulizer.

  • Perforomist® (formoterol), Take twice daily using nebulizer.

  • Serevent® (salmeterol), Take twice daily using Discus® or MDI.

  • Stiverdi® (olodaterol), Take once daily using Respimat®.


LAMA & LABA combinations include:

  • Anoro® (umedcldinium and vilanterol), Take once daily using Ellipta®.

  • Stiolto® (olodaterol and tiotropium), Take once daily using Respimat®.

  • Utibron® (indacaterol and glycopyrolate), Take twice daily using Neohaler®.


This information has been approved by Barry J. Make, MD and Ann Mullen, RN, CNS, MSN, AE-C (September 2016).