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Bronchodilator: Short-Acting Beta2-Agonist (SABA)

What is this medicine used for?

Short-acting beta 2-agonist bronchodilators (SABAs) are also called quick-relief, reliever, or rescue medicines. These medicines are used as needed to treat asthma attacks. You and your child should learn to recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack so your child can take this medicine as soon as symptoms start.

This medicine is not used on a regular, daily basis to prevent asthma symptoms. Your child may need a different type of medicine called a controller to keep from having asthma attacks. Controller medicines are taken on a regular schedule to prevent asthma symptoms.

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. Help your child avoid the things that trigger an asthma attack. Your child should keep reliever medicine with him at all times in case he has an asthma attack.

How does it work?

SABAs work fast to relax the muscles of the airways and to keep them 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.

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

  • A hand-held device, such as a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) or a dry powder inhaler, is small and easy to carry. Inhalers help send the medicine directly to the lungs as your child takes a deep breath. Some MDI medicines may need a spacer. A spacer is a small tube or bag that holds the medicine while your child breathes it into his lungs.
  • 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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