Drugs That Improve Breathing (Bronchodilators)

Examples

Albuterol - This drug causes relaxation of the bronchi (breathing tubes) and allows air to enter and exit the lungs easier. Given by metered dose inhaler or by nebulizer. May be given to patients breathing spontaneously or to those receiving mechanical ventilation.

Aminophylline - This drug causes relaxation of the bronchi (breathing tubes) and allows air to enter and exit the lungs easier. Theophylline is a liquid/tablet form of Aminophylline.

Terbutaline - This drug causes relaxation of the bronchi (breathing tubes) and allows air to enter and exit the lungs more easilty. May be given by numerous routes as shown above. Also given subcutaneous (SQ) to slow labor in pregnant females.

What are bronchodilator drugs?

These drugs help the lungs (specifically the small breathing tubes, called bronchi) to open up and let air enter and leave more easily.

Why are they given?

The doctor determines that the patient's breathing tubes are not fully opened. Asthma or emphysema may cause this condition. The administration of these medications usually allow the patient to breathe easier.

How long are they used?

This varies from patient to patient. Sometimes, this medicine is used only while there is difficulty breathing. However, it may also be used indefinitely.

Do they have side effects?

Bronchodilators do have side effects. Some are minor and some are potentially serious. For example, these drugs may make one feel nervous or shaky. They may also increase the heart rate. Some of these drugs can produce nausea or an upset stomach.