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Bronchodilator: Short-Acting Beta2-Agonist


What does this drug do?

Short-acting beta 2-agonists (SABAs) are also called quick-relief, reliever, or rescue medicines. They work fast to relax the muscles of the airways. They also keep muscles around the airways from getting too tight (bronchospasm) when exposed to asthma triggers. Asthma triggers include pollens, animals, molds, colds, exercise, cold air, and air pollutants.

This medicine is used to treat acute asthma attacks.

What are other names for this medicine?

Some other names for SABAs are:

  • albuterol (AccuNeb, Proventil HFA, ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA)
  • levalbuterol (Xopenex, Xopenex HFA)
  • pirbuterol (Maxair, Maxair Autohaler)

DuoNeb contains both a SABA (albuterol) and ipratropium bromide. Ipratropium bromide is an anticholinergic. It works by keeping the muscles in the large airways from getting too tight.

How is it taken?

This medicine can be inhaled using:

  • a nebulizer that produces a fine mist
  • a metered-dose inhaler (MDI)
  • Maxair Autohaler that automatically sprays the medicine when your child inhales through the mouthpiece

What side effects can this drug cause?

The most common side effects are shakiness and a fast heart rate.

What special instructions should be followed?

Do not increase the number of treatments to greater than ________ within a 24-hour period without checking with your healthcare provider. If your child’s asthma symptoms are not helped by the medicine, call your healthcare provider.

Do not use Xopenex unless the solution is colorless. Store unused vials in the foil pouch provided.


Written by the Asthma Task Force at The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-12-13
Last reviewed: 2010-12-13

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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