Long-acting beta2-agonists help prevent asthma symptoms by relaxing the smooth muscles around the airways. Unlike control medications, long-acting beta2-agonists do not reduce the swelling in the airways themselves, but instead prevent bronchospasm by keeping the airway muscles relaxed. One dose of a long-acting beta2-agonists will be effective for about 12 hours. Inhaled long-acting beta2-agonists are often used to prevent exercise-induced asthma.
Types of Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
There are two ways patients may take long-acting beta2-agonists:
Inhaled long-acting beta2-agonists -- Salmeterol (Serevent®, Serevent Diskus®) is an inhaled form of long-acting beta2-agonists that begins to take effect one to two hours after administration. It is often used in conjunction with control anti-inflammatory medicationsand has been shown to have positive effects on quality of life. Inhaled long-acting beta2-agonists are often used for exercise-induced asthma.
Oral long-acting beta2-agonists -- Albuterol (Proventil Repetab®, Volmax®) is taken orally and begins to take effect about 30 minutes after ingestion. It has a peak action at three to four hours and a span of 12 hours. The oral forms of long-acting beta2-agonists are not often prescribed, as there may be additional side effects such as insomnia and jitters.
Side Effects of Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
Long-acting beta2-agonists speed the cardiovascular system so users may experience increased heartbeat, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, and/or headaches. The side effects from salmeterol are less common than the long-acting oral albuterol preparations.
Contact the Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center at 205-871-9661 to ask an asthma specialist if a long-acting inhaler is right for you and your asthma symptoms.