Skip to Content
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 ofAugust 21, 2015
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital