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Asthma: Overuse of Quick-Relief Medicines

Overview

Quick-relief beta2-agonists quickly reduce symptoms. For this reason, people sometimes overuse them instead of adding the slower-acting, long-term medicines. Overuse of quick-relief medicines may be harmful.

If you overuse quick-relief beta2-agonists, you may feel that your asthma is under control. But, in fact, inflammation in your airways is becoming worse. This can put you in danger of having a severe, deadly attack (status asthmaticus).

Overuse:

  • May delay medical care.
  • May increase your chances of having a severe asthma attack. A severe attack can be deadly.
  • Can make quick-relief medicines less effective in the future.
  • Treats only the early narrowing of bronchial tubes without treating long-term inflammation.

In general, you may need more long-term treatment if you are using quick-relief medicines on more than 2 days a week within a month (except before exercise). Talk to your doctor if you are using your quick-relief medicine this often. Using these medicines often may mean that your symptoms and inflammation are not well controlled.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine

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