Relievers

SHORT ACTING BRONCHODILATORS 

 

Commonly called a reliever puffer, short acting beta-2 agonist, or short acting bronchodilator. Includes medications such as salbutamol (Airomir, Asmol, Ventolin & Zempreon) and terbutaline (Bricanyl – see more information about Bricanyl here). 

Relievers are fast-acting medications that reduce asthma symptoms quickly. They relax the muscles around the outside of the airways. Relievers start to work within minutes and can last for up to four hours.

HOW DO RELIEVERS HELP ASTHMA?

Reliever medication is important, it is your vital Asthma First Aid medication.  

Everyone with asthma should always have a reliever medicine handy. 

Relievers work by quickly relaxing tightened airway muscles, opening the airways up so you can breathe more easily. Their ability to provide quick relief of asthma symptoms means you should always carry it with you, so you can use it if you have asthma symptoms.  

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR RELIEVER?

Using your reliever inhaler properly is vital to get the medication to your lungs where it is needed. This is true no matter what type of inhaler you are using, puffer, Turbuhaler, or Autohaler. 

Make sure you are using your inhaler correctly at: https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/medicines-and-devices/techniques/ 

If you are using a blue/grey puffer as your reliever, it may be difficult to use properly during a flare-up when you are short of breath. It is recommended to use a spacer and the tidal breathing technique (also known as the 4-breath technique) with your blue/grey puffer during a flare-up. 

DOSE COUNTER ON RELIEVER PUFFERS

In early 2021 a dose counter was added to Asmol, Ventolin, and Zempreon (Salbutamol) puffers. The dose counter will show you the number of doses left in your inhalers. This helps you track your medication use and ensure there are doses left when you need them. 

Read more about the new dose counter on reliever puffers here. 

The new puffers with a dose counter are more sensitive to blockage, so it is important to clean your puffer weekly to keep it working. View cleaning instructions here. 

HOW OFTEN ARE YOU USING YOUR RELIEVER?

Did you know? 

  • Frequent use of your reliever (more than two days per week) is a sign of poorly controlled asthma.  
  • Using up three or more reliever puffers in 12 months is associated with an increased risk of an asthma attack.  
  • If you only use a reliever to treat your asthma, you are treating the symptoms but not the cause. This means your airways are more likely to react to triggers and are not protected from the increased risk of an asthma attack 
  • People who rely too much on their reliever have a higher risk of very severe and even life-threatening asthma attacks.  

Do any of these points sound like you?  

Do you only use a reliever? 

Talk to your doctor about the possibility of being prescribed an asthma preventer. A preventer will treat your underlying inflammation and sensitivity. 

Most people with asthma can gain and maintain good asthma control by using a preventer.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF RELIEVERS
  • Headache 
  • nausea 
  • Feeling shaky (tremor) or tense, agitated or restless   
  • increased heart rate or palpitations   

These usually pass quickly. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned.