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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Asthma: Overuse of Quick-Relief Medicines
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
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 - PediatricsSpecialist Medical ReviewerLora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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