Asthma Information > Medicines & Treatments » Asthma Relievers
- Everyone with asthma should have a reliever.
- Relievers are medicines that you can take immediately when asthma symptoms appear. They quickly relax the muscles surrounding the narrowed airways. This allows the airways to open wider making it easier to breathe again. However relievers do not reduce swelling in the airways.
- They are essential in treating asthma attacks.
- If taken before exercise they reduce your chances of getting asthma symptoms.
- Relievers usually come in blue inhalers. Salbutamol (e.g. Ventolin) and terbutaline (Bricanyl) are two examples of relievers. They work almost immediately to relieve the symptoms of asthma. That is why they are sometimes called rescue relievers. Ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) is a different type of reliever and is most commonly used by children under two or in older people. Atrovent takes around 45 minutes to work.
- If you are using your reliever inhaler two or more times a week, your asthma may not be fully controlled and you should go back to your doctor or asthma nurse for review.
- Relievers are a very safe and effective medicine and have very few side effects. Some relievers can slightly increase your heartbeat or give you mild muscle shakes. These effects are more common when taking high doses. These side effects generally wear off within a few minutes, or a few hours at most.