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Bronchodilator: Anticholinergic

What is this medicine used for?

Anticholinergic bronchodilators are medicines used to treat breathing problems caused by asthma. This medicine is called a controller medicine because when it’s taken regularly every day, it helps to control symptoms.

Anticholinergic medicine used alone does not treat sudden, severe breathing problems. It does not give quick relief of wheezing in acute attacks. For acute attacks, your child needs a different type of medicine called a reliever.

Sometimes this medicine is combined with other types of breathing medicine to treat sudden symptoms. It is also used when your child cannot take other types of medicine to help his breathing.

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.

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

How does it work?

Anticholinergic medicines help breathing problems because they block one of the chemicals in the body that make your child’s airway muscles tight. When the airway muscles are more relaxed and less tight, your child will have fewer symptoms and be able to breathe better. Anticholinergic medicine also lowers the amount of mucus made in the airways.

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 in to 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: 2012-01-25
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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