Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM


Bronchodilators are the most commonly prescribed medication for treating bronchial asthma. Its main effect is to promote bronchial dilations (widening of the airway) to accommodate sufficient amount of oxygen.

What are the Three Basic Types of Bronchodilators?

Anticholinergic Bronchodilator.

The drug form for this type of bronchodilator is nebule suspension. It is administered through the use of a nebulizer. Using this drug can cause dry mouth. In addition, if the content of the nebule gets inside the person’s eye can cause irritation and temporary blurring of vision. 

Most common brand names are: 

  1. Tiotropium
  2. Spiriva

Theophylline Bronchodilator.

It has lesser therapeutic effect than anticholinergic but it is more affordable. It has similar effects to caffeine-made drugs, which primarily works to smoothen and relaxes the accessory muscles surrounding the lungs. Common side effects of this drug include headache, stomach upset, loose bowel movements, hyperactivity, irregular or rapid heartbeats, muscle cramps, and feeling nervous. 

When using this drug, expect that your asthma specialist will monitor your blood levels to determine if you are receiving the right therapeutic benefits of the drug. 

Most common brand names of the drug are:

  1. Slo-Bid
  2. Theo-24
  3. Uniphyl
  4. Theo-Dur

OTC (Over-the-counter) Bronchodilators.

There are other pharmaceutical bronchodilators that contain adrenaline substances. Similar with theophylline, OTC bronchodilators provide temporary relief of asthma attack. It smoothen the airway to promote sufficient oxygen supply. 

However, using of OTC drugs is not recommended to asthmatic individuals with other existing health problems. People suffering from thyroid disorders, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases should consult their physician before taking OTC bronchodilators. 

Among the popular brand names are: 

  1. Bronkaid
  2. Primatene Mist
Basically, there are two general classifications of bronchodilators. The long-acting bronchodilator is classified as a maintenance drug to control asthma. It is scheduled for regular maintenance to retain the normal pathway of air. The short-acting bronchodilator is used for emergency cases such as asthma attack.

Both of these types of are administered via inhalation, oral, or intramuscular. However, newer generations of asthma drugs were designed to make it more convenient for asthmatics to relieve their respiratory sufferings.

These newer drug forms are applied topically while others served as prophylaxis against allergens and infections that can trigger the asthma attack.

Pharmaceutically, there are three types of bronchodilators available in the market. All of these have its distinctive mechanism of actions and special considerations. These bronchodilators are:

These are the three basic types of bronchodilators. Each type has branded drugs that work on long-acting or short-acting terms. Ideally, asthmatics should consult their pulmonologist to determine the right type of bronchodilators for their current health condition.

Following the advice of the doctors including the amount, schedule, and precautionary measures in using bronchodilators will give you the best benefits of the medicine. Additionally, it prevents you from worsening your condition. In cases of abnormal adverse reactions to drugs, refer your observations to the doctor.

Your doctor will either adjust the dosage of the drug or will change to another type of bronchodilator. It is recommended to monitor your bodily response towards the drug during the first five days of taking the medication. Any untoward problem, whether it is mild or severe must be recorded and report it to your doctor– By Edterchelle Soriano