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Is bronchodilator a steroid?

The ability to breathe well effortlessly on a day to day basis and even in sleep are certainly things that humans always take for granted. You can ask a person with lung diseases, especially diseases that affected them from when they were a child and still affecting them or potentially affecting them now, suffer from respiratory diseases that often exhibit breathlessness as its symptom. Such symptoms can be very annoying and at times may even tamper with their daily life activities. There are a number of drugs used to treat breathlessness such as SPIRIVA RESPIMAT 2.5 mg. Since there are many kinds of drugs in many forms in the market, you probably have heard about bronchodilators that are commonly used in patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The question now is, is bronchodilator a steroid?

The answer is no. A bronchodilator is not a steroid. You may be confused with bronchodilator as a steroid since in many occasions it is used hands in hands to help improve breathing symptoms. In truth, bronchodilator and inhaled steroids are used together in patients with asthma or COPD to help improve their symptoms. Both of the diseases causing a patient to have breathing difficulties that are treated by many different regimes involving different doses and types of bronchodilator or inhaled steroids. These breathing difficulties are often as a result of inflammation and constricting muscles in the lungs. Hence, bronchodilator is used to help patients breathe better by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways. It also helps to remove mucus from blocking the airways and leads to breathlessness. Bronchodilators is divided into two types:

  1. The first type is the short-acting bronchodilators that is used as short-term relief from the sudden attack or unexpected breathlessness. It is also known as the rescue medication due to the fast-acting effect. Common ingredients in short-acting bronchodilators are albuterol, levalbuterol and metaproterenol. This type of bronchodilator can also be used before anticipated events that could trigger breathlessness such as exercise.
  2. The second type is long-acting bronchodilators that is used to help control breathlessness and is often used long-term before a person can achieve an efficient breathing system. Common ingredients in long-acting bronchodilators are salmeterol and formoterol. It is often used in combination with inhaled steroids since it could enhance the effect.

Just as with any other drugs, beside the benefits, it also poses potential side effects. Common side effects of using bronchodilators include dry mouth, sore throat, headache and dizziness. Should there be any side effects that do not dissipate or get worse, you should get medical advice immediately. Side effects can be signs of you accidentally using drugs excessively or the dose does not suit you. Hence, discuss with your healthcare provider that prescribes bronchodilators. If you feel dizzy or have blurred vision after taking bronchodilators, avoid working with machines or drive vehicles on your own as this can increase chances for accidents or work hazards. If you have other medical conditions such as kidney problems or are taking any other medicine such as antibiotics or seizure, you should notify your doctor. This is important to prevent drug interaction which could lead to side effects.

In essence, bronchodilator is not a steroid. In fact, bronchodilators may be used in combination of steroids in forms of inhalation to provide a better effect towards breathlessness symptoms. It is necessary to take bronchodilator as prescribed by doctors and follow all doctor’s advice. If there is an unwanted effect from using bronchodilator or your breathlessness symptoms get worse, please seek medical advice immediately.

Bronchodilators itself is divided into two types which are short-acting bronchodilators and long-acting bronchodilators. It is important to really understand if the bronchodilators you are using belong to what type. This is because each type plays a different role in different settings. As mentioned above, short-acting bronchodilators are used in emergency settings whereas long-acting bronchodilators act as a maintenance treatment or improving symptom in the long-term. Beside knowing the type of the bronchodilator you are using or prescribed by a doctor, you should follow the doctor’s advice on how to use it properly. This includes the dosage which means how many puffs you should be using and ways of using it. If you are using it for the first time, you may need to prime it first. To prime, simply spray it away from your face and into the air. Do spray until you can see evenly fine mist spread in the air. Do ask your healthcare provider if you do need a prime bronchodilator and the easiest way to prime. Prime can play an important role in delivering the exact dose of the bronchodilator when it is taken by inhalation in puffs.

Apart from taking medicine such as bronchodilator to treat symptoms of breathlessness, a person should do something more to help improve their lung health which eventually lessens the symptom itself. Things a person should do to get a better functional lung is by doing regular physical exercise such as brisk walking and breathing exercises. You can ask your healthcare provider for ways to improve your lung health and suitable exercises that work for you.