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Know About Rescue inhalers: Different Types, uses, and side effects

Know About Rescue inhalers:  Different Types, uses, and side effects
Published : Apr 26, 2024
Last Updated : Apr 26, 2024

A rescue inhaler is a type of inhaler that dispenses medicine to relieve or stop the symptoms of an asthma attack. Albuterol and Levalbuterol are among the most commonly prescribed rescue inhalers by health professionals. 

Most people who have asthma are aware of their triggers and make use of rescue inhalers to manage their symptoms. A Rescue inhaler is considered a fast-acting medication that quickly works to avoid severe health complications.

Rescue inhalers are mainly short-acting beta-agonists. They start to work quickly to provide relief from shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing by relaxing the muscles of the lungs. This allows airways to open up and helps air travel freely in and out. During an asthma attack, rescue inhalers act as lifeguards. 

Understanding rescue inhalers is crucial for managing asthma effectively. In this blog, we delve into the details of these inhalers so that you can control your condition. 

What are Rescue Inhalers?

Rescue inhalers or bronchodilators are medicines that relax muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This helps open the airways and allows more air to move in and out of the lungs, making breathing easier. 

Asthma is a common lung inflammatory condition affecting adults and children. For most people, rescue inhalers are prescribed medicines that come in a metered dose. Rescue inhalers are also known as bronchodilators. 

Rescue inhalers play a vital role in managing asthma symptoms. They provide quick relief by effectively eliminating mucus from the lungs and opening airways. This is why almost every asthma patient relies on a rescue inhaler to open their airways swiftly. 

Benefits of rescue inhalers 

Here are some benefits of using rescue inhalers:

  • Rescue inhalers deliver medicine directly to the lungs
  • They can manage the symptoms of asthma attack effectively
  • Rescue inhalers open up your airways during an asthma attack and prevent your symptoms from getting worse

Types of Rescue Inhaler

If we talk about rescue inhalers, they use short-acting medicine. A short-acting rescue inhaler provides quick relief and continuously works for 4 to 6 hours. 

On the other hand, long-acting rescue inhalers help people suffering from asthma manage their condition in the long term. Instead of providing immediate relief, they control the symptoms. 

Budesonide and formoterol are two commonly used long-acting medicines in rescue inhalers. 

How Rescue Inhaler Is Used? 

Rescue inhalers are easy to use. Doctors recommend using a rescue inhaler when first-time asthma symptoms are experienced. If your asthma symptoms turn intense, your risk of experiencing an asthma attack increases. 

Some common symptoms of asthma attack include:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

It is necessary for you to stay calm. A rescue inhaler starts to expand your airways as soon you inhale medicine from it. A patient suffering from asthma will be able to breathe again normally within 15-20 minutes. 

Keep your rescue inhaler in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight, away from high temperatures or changes in humidity. If you are an asthma patient, always carry your rescue inhaler. Never try using a rescue inhaler in place of long-term asthma control medicines.

When Rescue Inhaler Should Be Used? 

A rescue inhaler should be used when symptoms start to increase to avoid severe asthma symptoms or attacks.

You must know that rescue inhalers differ from everyday inhalers because they are usually required in unexpected conditions. It is advised to keep your rescue inhaler always on you so that it can used in the following conditions:

• When you experience any unexpected triggers

• Before you get surrounded by your asthma triggers

• 15-30 minutes before you start to exercise 

 How Rescue Inhaler Works? 

When a rescue inhaler is inhaled, the medicine starts to relax muscles in the airways. This widens the airways and decreases breathing problems. It also opens the airways by reducing the build-up of mucus, making it easier for asthma patients to breathe.

Possible Side Effects of Rescue Inhaler 

If we talk about rescue inhalers, side effects are rare. However, some possible side effects can include:

• Increased heart rate 

• Feeling nervous or shaky

• Hyperactivity 

In rare cases, some asthma patients can also suffer from an upset stomach or trouble sleeping. 

When To Meet Your Doctor For Asthma? 

If you or your child suffer from asthma and experience any of the following symptoms, immediately reach out to your doctor. Here are some asthma symptoms when you must contact the doctor to find the right treatment plan:

• Dizziness

• Chest tightness

• The problem with doing routine activities

• Feeling weak or faint

• Coughing

• Wheezing when you inhale or exhale

• Shortness of breath


A rescue inhaler is effective in relieving the symptoms of an asthma attack quickly. As your asthma symptoms begin, make sure to use a rescue inhaler. You should never use a rescue inhaler in place of normal long-term asthma control medications.