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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's the difference between Albuterol and Atrovent?

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: What is the difference between Ventolin and Atrovent? I have been getting jittery when using Advair, Prednisone, Theophylline and Ventolin, and my doctor says Atrovent may help instead of Ventolin

My humble answer: With all those meds, it sounds like you have hardluck asthma.

The problem is, every one of those medicines you're on can cause the jitters. That's the thing with asthma is you have to balance the advantages of taking asthma meds with the disadvantages. And sometimes we asthmatics, while we're trying to get our asthma under control, have to put up with side effects -- mainly the jitters.

The thing about Ventolin, as I'm sure you know, is it gives you immediate relief you can feel, and that's why it's called a rescue medicine. Atrovent can open your airways too, but its effects are generally mild and may take longer than Ventolin. While Atrovent is generally not recommended by the asthma guidelines as a frontline medicine for most asthmatics, it has proven beneficial for some. So you should try it and see if it works for you. But Keep your Ventolin on hand just in case you need it.

Here's some information about Ventolin and Atrovent:

Ventolin is a beta adrenergic medicine. It is a medicine that attaches to beta 2 receptors that are on the muscles that surround the air passages in your lungs (bronchioles) and cause the air passages to relax. It can rapidly open up your lungs making it easier to breathe. It is considered a front line medicine for treating acute asthma symptoms.

Atrovent is an anticholinergic medicine. Our bodies release a natural neurotransmitter (Acetylcholine) that attaches to cholinergic receptors in the muscles surrounding the air passages in our lungs. This cause these muscles to spasm, and your air passages to become narrow (bronchoconstriction). Thus, Atrovent particles attach to these cholinergic receptor sites and block the cholinergic response, thus prevening this airway narrowing. To control asthma, usually there are better medicines than this. However, when all else fails, this is a good option to try. Most experts call Atrovent a back door bronchodilator.

I hope this information helps. Good luck.

If you have any further questions email me, or Visit's" Q&A section.

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