Emergency spray for asthma

Definition - What is an asthma emergency spray?

Bronchial asthma is a disease of the airways. During an asthma attack, various possible triggers lead to a sudden narrowing of the airways, which leads to acute shortness of breath. Emergency sprays, which are used to treat bronchial asthma, contain active ingredients that widen the airways and thus effectively combat shortness of breath. In the event of a severe asthma attack, such an emergency spray can be life-saving.

Also read: asthma

What active ingredients does an emergency spray contain?

In the therapy of bronchial asthma, a distinction is made between short-acting and long-acting substances for substances that widen the airways. The short-acting substances have an almost immediate effect and are therefore used in acute shortness of breath in the context of an asthma attack. Typical active ingredients in bronchial asthma are mainly active ingredients from the group of short-acting beta-2 sympathomimetics. These include, for example, salbutamol and fenoterol, with salbutamol being the most widely used active ingredient for asthma emergency sprays. In addition to the beta-2 sympathomimetics, active ingredients from the group of parasympatholytics also play a role, for example the active ingredient ipratropium bromide. However, these active ingredients are only used when beta-2 sympathomimetics are not sufficiently effective.

For more information, see:

  • Therapy of asthma
  • Medicines for asthma

How often can I use the emergency spray?

In adolescents and adults, the total daily dose of the active ingredient salbutamol should not exceed 10 sprays. Especially because no additional benefit is to be expected when using a higher dose. The emergency spray is not - as the name suggests - only used in emergencies but should - depending on the asthma stage - be used regularly if necessary.

In addition, it should be used as an actual emergency spray in the event of sudden asthma attacks. One spray is usually sufficient here. If not, another puff can be used. In most cases, the shortness of breath will improve significantly after 5 to a maximum of 10 minutes. How often the emergency spray should be used depends on the severity of the illness. As a rule, the intake is determined individually for each patient by the treating pulmonologist or family doctor. In the event of foreseeable events that are likely to trigger an asthma attack, the spray should be applied about 10-15 minutes beforehand.

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Side effects of a salbutamol emergency spray in asthma

The active ingredient salbutamol can have various side effects. The following symptoms can occur when taking it

  • Palpitations (Tachycardia)
  • Palpitations (Palpitations)
  • Drop in blood pressure (Hypotension)
  • Trembling of fingers and hands (tremor)
  • Muscle spasms
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • a headache
  • Chest pain
  • Drop in blood potassium levels (Hypokalemia)
  • Increase in blood sugar level (Hyperglycemia)
  • Hot flashes
  • sleep disorders
  • allergic reactions such as skin rash
  • Swelling of the face
  • shortness of breath

For more information, see:

  • Salbutamol
  • Salbutamol spray

Can I use an emergency spray during pregnancy?

The salbutamol most frequently found in asthma emergency sprays is the agent of first choice for the acute treatment of an asthma attack during pregnancy, so it can be used without restrictions. It should of course only be used when necessary. Towards the end of pregnancy, it should be noted that higher doses of salbutamol may have an anti-labor effect.

Can I take the emergency spray with me on the plane?

In principle, medically indicated drugs can of course be carried in hand luggage. To be on the safe side, however - especially when traveling abroad - a doctor's certificate (in English) that the medication is necessary should be carried with you. In addition, only the amount currently required should be carried in hand luggage. If you are staying abroad for a longer period, you should not carry all three emergency sprays in your hand luggage, but only one in your hand luggage while the rest should be checked in with your luggage. It should be noted that medication that may not be taken on the flight itself, but must be taken within a certain period after the flight, should be carried in hand baggage to be on the safe side if the checked baggage is lost.

Is there an emergency spray available without a prescription?

In Germany, emergency asthma sprays are prescription / prescription drugs. They can therefore only be purchased in the pharmacy after presenting a prescription issued by a doctor.

Cost of an emergency asthma spray

Emergency sprays with the ingredient salbutamol are offered by different suppliers at different prices. The cheapest spray is available for around 14 euros. In the case of asthmatics, however, the medication costs are covered by the health insurance, there are then no costs in addition to the usual prescription fees.

This is how the spray works

Active ingredients such as salbutamol from the group of beta-2 sympathomimetics have a stimulating or activating effect on beta-2 receptors. Such receptors are only found in certain organs of the body. They are particularly present in the area of ​​the smooth muscles of the bronchi, which form part of the airways, the muscles of the uterus (uterus) and the vascular muscles. Since asthma sprays are inhaled, the active ingredients develop their effect primarily in the area of ​​the smooth muscles of the bronchi. Here they lead to a relaxation of the muscles so that the airways expand. Especially in the case of an acute asthma attack, in which there is an acute narrowing of the airways, the spray quickly leads to significantly better ventilation of the lungs.

Do asthmatics need an emergency kit?

An emergency kit is usually not necessary for patients with bronchial asthma. An emergency spray is completely sufficient in an emergency.

However, emergency kits are essential for certain known allergies. These include, for example, an insect venom allergy or certain food allergies. Such a set then contains certain emergency medication. First and foremost, an adrenaline pen plays an essential role here. However, the attending physician knows exactly which medication such an emergency kit should contain. This then also prescribes the appropriate medication.

What to do if you have an asthma attack Read our article on this: Asthma attack