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Treating Asthma: Different Types of Bronchodilators and What They Do to Our Body

Asthma affects 235 million people worldwide, which is estimated by the World Health Organization or also shortly known as WHO.  Asthma is a respiratory condition which is the most common chronic disease among children and has a tally of 80% related deaths. Additionally, this disease is under-diagnosed and under-treated, which creates a substantial amount of burden to individuals and families that are suffering from this illness.

Difficulty in breathing and wheezing are the two traits of asthma which are due to the narrowing of the air passageways or also known as the bronchial tube of the lungs. In relation to this, is the bronchodilator, which is used by almost all people that suffer asthma as a way to open the contracted airway passages.

As an individual that may be suffering from asthma, why should you be concerned about this medicine and what can you know more about it? Continue reading to know more about bronchodilators and obtain information that you should know about.

How Do Bronchodilators Work?

To define it briefly, bronchodilators creates a way in an individual’s contracted passageway. But to specifically make one understand how it works within one’s system, then this type of medication causes the bronchial muscles to relax which as a result, makes the bronchial tubes to open wider or dilate. When these muscles relax, then this means that one’s breathing can usually be back to normal.

However, sometimes, the bronchial tubes are swollen and are filled with mucus. Thus, if these conditions are present in the bronchial tubes, then bronchodilators can only bring partial relief to the patient with asthma symptoms. In this case, even if the bronchial muscles are relaxed, the bronchial tubes remain narrow and blocked.

Types of Bronchodilators for Asthma

For the treatment of an individual’s asthma symptoms, there are three types of bronchodilators to cater every patients’ needs namely: beta-agonists, anticholinergics, and theophylline. These are available in tablet, liquid, inhaled, and injectable forms, however, the preferred method of taking the anticholinergics and beta-agonists is through inhalation.


Beta-adrenergic or beta-agonists in a shorter term is the most widely used bronchodilator. The term agonists describe the medication that stimulates something, where in this case is the stimulation of the bronchial muscles. On the other hand, is adrenergic which refers to the adrenaline-like properties of the medicines.

These medications stimulate beta-2 receptors present on the smooth muscle cells that line the airways, causing the muscle cells to relax which results in opening the airways. Some examples of this bronchodilator family are generic names albuterol, pirbuterol, terbutaline, and brand names Ventolin, Proventil, Alupent, Metaprel, and ProAir HFA.


The anticholinergic bronchodilators work through blocking the effect of acetylcholine on nasal passages and airways. The acetylcholine is a chemical substance that nerves use to communicate with the muscle cells. In asthma, the cholinergic nerves that are going to the lungs cause the narrowing of the airways by stimulating the muscles surrounding the airways, resulting in contraction of the passage. 

Thus, the anticholinergic effect of this bronchodilator prevents the contraction of the nasal passages and airways due to the cholinergic nerves, which causes the muscles to relax and airways to dilate. 


Theophylline is a bronchodilator medication which is only swallowed or be injected intravenously. This type of bronchodilator has a special advantage between the other two since some of them stay in the blood for 12-24 hours after taking the capsule or tablet, which makes it possible to use once or twice a day enjoying the continuous benefit throughout the day.

However, there are several disadvantages to this type of bronchodilator. They are not as strong as the beta-agonists and it often has unpleasant side effects such as loose bowels, sleeplessness, stomach discomfort, and jitteriness. Additionally, it can occasionally have dangerous effects when an excessive amount of theophylline gets into the blood, like having abnormal heart rhythms and seizures.


Asthma may be seen as a minor chronic condition by some individuals that have little knowledge about this illness, however, this should not be taken lightly since just like any other diseases, this one can cause death too especially in children if left unattended. 

Asthma medications might be unfriendly to your pockets, adding up with your doctor’s fees, but since health should be a priority, you should go check some available medical help being offered, such as coupons in medicines like Proair HFA coupons, which could surely be of help to you.

Lori Wade
Lori Wade is a content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from Lifestyle, Technology, Business, Health, education and online marketing to entrepreneurship.
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