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Asthma Treatment in Kids

A beta-2 agonist is a bronchodilator, a type of medicine that opens up the airways by relaxing the muscles around them, making it easier to breathe. Short-acting ones, such as albuterol (Ventolin) or ipratropium bromide (Atrovent), work quickly to treat asthma symptoms, but wear off in a few hours. Often called "rescue" or "reliever" medicines, they work best when breathed in (inhaled). These can be given by a nebulizer machine or by a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer (holding chamber). (For younger children, a mask is used with the nebulizer or spacer.) Short-acting beta-2 agonists can also be given by mouth (for example, albuterol syrup).

NOTE: Using short-acting beta-2 agonists more than two times a week in intermittent asthma (or every day in persistent asthma), may indicate the need to start (or increase) control medications.


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