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 corticosteroids.
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).
- May delay medical care and increase your chances of having a severe asthma attack that can be life-threatening.
- Can decrease the future effectiveness of these medicines.
- Treats the early narrowing of bronchial tubes without treating long-term inflammation.
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.
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of: May 23, 2016
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.