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Understanding Asthma Medications (cont.)

Anticholinergic Inhalers

Ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) and tiotropium (Spiriva) are used with beta-agonists for severe symptoms.

How anticholinergic inhalers work

These drugs decrease bronchospasm and secretion of mucus in airways and are often used with albuterol to enhance effectiveness. In general, they are not as effective as the beta-agonists in treating asthma.

Who should not use these medications

  • Individuals who are allergic to any components of the inhaled product should not take these drugs.
  • Individuals who are allergic to soya lecithin or similar food products, such as soybeans or peanuts, should not take these drugs.

Use

Both handheld inhalers and a solution for use with a nebulizer are available. Many inhaled products have specific devices and you should be thoroughly informed on how to use the inhaler or nebulizer prescribed for you. These drugs are typically used three to four times per day.

Drug or food interactions

Since anticholinergic inhalers have little or no effect beyond the area applied, they are unlikely to interact with other drugs.

Side effects

Anticholinergic inhalers are not indicated for acute asthma attacks. The most common adverse effect is dry mouth. Individuals with glaucoma should be closely monitored by their ophthalmologist.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/15/2014

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