Asthma Rescue Medicine
The name of your rescue medicine is _____________________________.
What do rescue medicines do?
They open and relax the airways, making it easier for you to breathe. They also decrease
coughing and wheezing. They work very quickly, within minutes.
How do I know if I need a rescue medicine?
You may need to use your rescue medicine if you have
ξ Chest tightness
You may also need to use it if you can’t catch your breath.
What are some rescue medicines?
ξ Short acting beta-agonists:
o Albuterol (Proventil®, Ventolin®, ProAir®, AccuNeb®)
o Levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
o Ipratropium (Atrovent®)
ξ Albuterol can also be combined with ipratropium:
o Respimat®, Combivent® inhaler or DuoNeb® by nebulizer
Respimat® should be no more than 6 inhalations every 24 hours.
What side effects can they cause?
ξ Fast heartbeat
ξ Feeling shaky
Important things to remember about your inhaler
ξ Follow the steps listed your Asthma Action Plan for increased cough or wheeze.
ξ Rescue medicines are used every 4-6 hours as needed for quick-relief of asthma
ξ You should always carry it with you.
ξ It may be used 10 minutes before exercise if activity triggers asthma symptoms.
ξ Shake for 5 seconds before each use.
ξ Avoid getting the inside of your inhaler wet because the Albuterol is powder based.
ξ Using a spacer will help increase the amount of Albuterol delivered to your lungs.
Spacers should be washed weekly in hot soapy water, rinsed and air dried.
If it seems like you need to use your rescue medicine often, more than 2 times a week other
than for exercise, you should call your asthma doctor or nurse. This may be a sign your
asthma is not under good control.
How do I prepare my inhaler for use?
ξ Proventil®: Prime 4 test sprays before 1st use and if not used in last 2 weeks, or if it was
ξ Ventoline®: Prime 4 test sprays before 1st use and if not used in last 2 weeks, or if it was
ξ Pro Air®: Prime 3 test sprays and if not used in last 2 weeks.
ξ Atrovent®: Prime 2 test sprays before 1st use and if not used in last 3 days.
ξ Levalbuterol®: Prime 4 test sprays before 1st use and if not used in last 3 days.
ξ Respimat®: Prime 1 test spray prior to 1st use and if not used in the last 3 days.
Spanish Health Fact for you is #6732
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 4/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Reviewed by Dane County Asthma Coalition. Produced by the
Department of Nursing, HF#6660