How Do Bronchodilators Work?
Bronchodilators relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This rapidly opens the airways, letting more air in and out of the lungs, improving breathing.
Bronchodilators can also help clear mucus from the lungs. As the airways open, the mucus can move more freely and is then more easily expelled.
Generally one or two puffs of an inhaler relieve the wheezing and chest tightness associated with a mild attack. It may be necessary to take more puffs for severe attacks. You should speak with your health care provider about developing an asthma plan.
Some types of bronchodilators include:
- Ventolin, Proventil, Pro-Air
What Are the Side Effects of Bronchodilators?
Bronchodilators are potent drugs. If overused, they can cause dangerous side effects such as high blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.
Mast Cell Stabilizers
Mast cell stabilizers can be used to treat mild to moderate inflammation in the bronchial tubes and other allergy symptoms. These medications can also be used to prevent asthma symptoms during exercise and can be given before exposure to an allergen when it cannot be avoided.
Mast cell stabilizers are available as inhalers for asthma, eyedrops for allergic conjunctivitis, and nasal sprays for nasal allergy symptoms. Like with many drugs, it may take several weeks before the full effects are felt.
Some examples of mast cell stabilizers include:
How Do Mast Cell Stabilizers Work?
Mast cell stabilizers work by preventing the release of histamine from mast cells (cells that make and store histamine). Some of these drugs also have important anti-inflammatory effects, but typically they are not as effective as steroids.
What Are the Side Effects Mast Cell Stabilizers?
Throat irritation, coughing or skin rashes sometimes can occur with inhaled mast cell stabilizers. Some people associate a bad taste with the use of Tilade. Using a spacer to take the medicine and drinking juice following treatment may decrease the taste. Mast cell stabilizers in the form of eye drops may cause burning, stinging, or blurred vision when they are administered.
Leukotriene modifiers are used to treat asthma and nasal allergy symptoms. They can be prescribed along with other drugs.
These medications are available only with a doctor's prescription and come as pills, chewable tablets, and oral granules.
Examples of leukotriene modifiers include:
- Accolate (zafirlukast)
- Singulair (monteleukast)
- Zyflo (zileuton)
How Do Leukotriene Modifiers Work?
Leukotriene modifiers block the effects of leukotrienes, chemicals produced in the body in response to an allergic reaction.
What Are the Side Effects of Leukotriene Modifiers?
Side effects of these drugs are rare, especially for Accolate and Singulair, but may include:
- Stomach pain or stomach upset
- Stuffy nose
- Behavioral issues