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Bronchodilator: Long-Acting Beta2-Agonist (LABA)

What is this medicine used for?

Long-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators (LABAs) are used to prevent asthma symptoms. This medicine is taken every day, even when your child is not having symptoms. It is called a controller medicine because when it’s taken regularly every day, it helps to control symptoms.

LABAs do not give quick relief of wheezing in acute asthma attacks. For acute attacks, your child needs a different type of medicine called a reliever.

Asthma symptoms are caused by 2 different problems in the airways.

  • One problem is that the muscles in the airways tighten up, which causes the feeling of chest tightness and wheezing.
  • The other problem is swelling, irritation, and too much mucus in the airways.

Asthma symptoms often start after your child is exposed to a trigger. Asthma triggers can include pollen, animals, mold, colds, exercise, cold air, and air pollutants. It’s important to know what things trigger your child's asthma symptoms so that your child can avoid those things or take reliever medicine before being around a trigger.

LABAs are always used with another type of controller medicine, usually an inhaled steroid. They should never be used as the only treatment for asthma. LABAs should be used for a short time only. Your child's healthcare provider may stop the LABA once other types of daily medicines are controlling asthma symptoms.

Asthma symptoms come and go throughout the day or week and get better with medicine.

How does it work?

LABAs relax the muscles in the airways and keep the muscles from getting too tight. When the airway muscles are more relaxed and less tight, your child will have fewer symptoms and be able to breathe better. Other medicines used with LABAs can lessen swelling and inflammation.

The medicine can be taken in different ways. For example:

  • A hand-held device called a dry powder inhaler is small and easy to carry with you. The inhaler helps send the medicine directly to the lungs as your child takes a deep breath.
  • A nebulizer is a machine that your child can use at home. Medicine is mixed with liquid and the machine forms a mist. Your child breathes in the mist to help get the medicine into the lungs.

What else do I need to know about this medicine?

  • Follow the directions that come with your child’s medicine, including information about food or alcohol. Make sure you know how and when your child needs to take the medicine. Your child should not take more or less than he or she is supposed to take.
  • Try to get all of your child’s prescriptions filled at the same place. Your pharmacist can help make sure that all of your child’s medicines are safe to take together.
  • Keep a list of your child’s medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that your child takes. Tell all healthcare providers who treat your child about all of the products your child takes.
  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause and what you should do if your child has side effects.

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-12-09
Last reviewed: 2012-12-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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