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What Are the Pros and Cons of Long-Acting Bronchodilator?

By Rebecca Harkin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The benefits of a long-acting bronchodilator include the fact that this medication provides long-term control of asthma symptoms, the medication is taken only once or twice a day, and it allows patients to reduce the amount of corticosteroid needed to relieve asthma symptoms. One of the disadvantages of this type of inhaler is that it does not provide immediate, fast-acting relief of respiratory issues. In addition, a long-acting bronchodilator needs to be used in combination with other asthma medications and is not sufficient in controlling all symptoms alone. This type of inhaler also has a wide range of side effects, such as causing an agitated or hyperactive feeling, producing heart palpitations, and impairing sleep.

A long–acting bronchodilator is taken in combination with inhaled steroids when inhaled steroids are unable to fully control the symptoms of asthma, especially during exercise or at night when asthma symptoms occasionally peak. One of the benefits of these long-acting inhalers is that they often allow a patient to reduce the dose of inhaled steroids needed to control symptoms. As inhaled steroids have difficult side effects, reducing the use of these drugs is a benefit for patients.

Asthma symptoms can also fluctuate in severity throughout the year, and often inhaled steroids alone are unable to control these events when symptoms peak. Sometimes a patient finds herself over-using the inhaled steroids without any relief. A long-acting bronchodilator may help to bring these difficult respiratory episodes under control. Once the respiratory issue has abated, the long-acting inhaler can be discontinued. Long-acting inhalers also need to be taken only once or twice a day, with the benefits usually lasting 12 hours.

One of the biggest cons of a long-acting bronchodilator is that these medications are not meant to provide immediate relief during a sudden and severe asthma attack. Patients need to be carefully advised about the use of this medication because it is different from the typical asthma medications used by asthmatics. This medication should never be used more than the prescribed dose.

A long-acting bronchodilator needs to be used in combination with other asthma medications. As this type of drug works long-term, a short-term or fast-acting inhaler needs to be prescribed along with this medication to control sudden-onset respiratory events. These long-term inhalers are also meant to be used for only a few months at a time to gain control over difficult asthma problems.

Bronchodilators that are long acting have lots of side effects. These inhalers can cause a wide range of nervous, agitated, and excited behaviors. Patients need to be aware of this side effect and work to manage them when first starting this type of medication. These types of long-acting inhalers can also produce heart palpitations, insomnia, and an upset stomach.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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