- What is salmeterol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for salmeterol?
- Is salmeterol available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for salmeterol?
- What are the side effects of salmeterol?
- What is the dosage for salmeterol?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with salmeterol?
- Is salmeterol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about salmeterol?
What is salmeterol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Asthma is a breathing problem involving narrowing of the airways. Airways are breathing passages that allow air to move in and out of the lungs. In patients with asthma, airways can be narrowed by accumulation of mucus, spasm of the muscles that surround these airways, or swelling of the lining of the airways. Airway narrowing lead to symptoms of shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and congestion. Medications used in treating asthma open airways are called bronchodilators. Salmeterol is a bronchodilator of the beta-2 agonist type. Beta-2 agonists are medications that stimulate beta-2 receptors on the smooth muscle cells that line the airways, causing these muscle cells to relax, thus, opening airways.
Certain allergens (such as pollen) can cause airway narrowing by inducing release of histamine by mast cells. Histamine is a natural chemical that causes tissue swelling and other allergic reactions in the body when released into the tissue. Mast cells belong to a class of immune cells located around the airways. Salmeterol is an inhaled medication that blocks the release of histamine by the mast cells, thus preventing airway narrowing when exposed to allergens.
What are the side effects of salmeterol?
Side effects include:
Throat and upper airway irritation can occur.
Use of long acting drugs like salmeterol may increase the risk of asthma-related death. Therefore, salmeterol should only be used in patients uncontrolled by other agents and who are using other long-term asthma-controlling medications such as an inhaled corticosteroid.
Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
What is the dosage for salmeterol?
Salmeterol inhalations should not be used more often than prescribed (twice per day) and proper techniques of inhalation closely followed. Salmeterol is metabolized by the liver and should be used with caution in patients with liver dysfunction. Salmeterol is not meant to be used in treating acute asthma attacks; short acting inhaler medications are used for acute attacks. When using salmeterol in preventing exercised induced asthma, the medication is administered 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. Salmeterol does not take the place of oral or inhaled corticosteroids.
Which drugs or supplements interact with salmeterol?
Salmeterol can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and cause chest pain and excitement, especially if used in higher doses than recommended or used in those with coronary heart disease or high blood pressure. Tricyclic antidepressants and salmeterol should not be combined because of additive effect on the vascular system. In rare instances, salmeterol can induce paradoxical worsening of bronchospasm (which can be life-threatening). If this occurs, salmeterol should be discontinued, and the doctor notified immediately. Rare allergic reactions to salmeterol can cause skin rash, hives, swelling, bronchospasm, and anaphylaxis. Worsening of diabetes and lowering of potassium have also been described.
Is salmeterol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Adequate studies of salmeterol during pregnancy have not been done. In some, but not all, pregnant animal models exposure to very high doses of oral salmeterol has led to offspring with birth defects. The concentrations of salmeterol in the blood after these very high doses, however, were much higher than the concentrations observed after inhalation. Salmeterol inhalation should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
In rats, salmeterol is excreted in milk. Therefore, caution should be exercised when salmeterol is administered to nursing women.
What else should I know about salmeterol?
What preparations of salmeterol are available?
Canisters (13g with 120 inhalations and 6.5g with 60 inhalations).
How should I keep salmeterol stored?
Salmeterol should be stored from 36 F to 86 F (2.2 C to 30 C). The canister should be kept away from heat or flame and not punctured; it should not be frozen or placed in direct sunlight .
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
Salmeterol (Serevent) is a bronchodilator medication prescribed for the maintenance of asthma, and in preventing bronchospasm (spasm of the airways). Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy information, dosing, and patient information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Related Disease Conditions
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke,...
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and...
Neutropenia is a marked decrease in the number of neutrophils, neutrophils being a type of white blood cell (specifically a form...
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a...
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators....
COPD vs. Emphysema (Differences Similarities)
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of...
Exercise-induced asthma is asthma triggered by vigorous exercise. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest...
Treatment & Diagnosis
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Medications & Supplements
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Bronchodilators (Drug Class)
- Drug Interactions
- albuterol (Accuneb, Ventolin & Proventil [all discontinued])
- terbutaline, Brethine, Bricanyl, and Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.
- Advair Diskus, Advair HFA (fluticasone and salmeterol oral inhaler)
- levalbuterol pre-mixed solution - inhalation, Xopenex
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top salmeterol Related ArticlesComplete List
albuterolalbuterol (Accuneb, Ventolin and Proventil have been discontinued) is a drug used for prevention and relief of bronchospasm in individuals with asthma, exercise induced asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Drug interactions include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and beta blockers. Side effects include tremor, headache, palpitations, and more. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
AllergyAn allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Asthma MedicationsThere are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators. Asthma medicines may be inhaled using a metered-dose inhaler or nebulizer or they may be taken orally. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease shouldn't take OTC asthma drugs like Primatene Mist and Bronkaid.
Asthma OverviewAsthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Causes of asthma include genetics, environmental factors, personal history of allergies, and other factors. Asthma is diagnosed by a physician based on a patient's family history and results from lung function tests and other exams. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs) are used in the treatment of asthma. Generally, the prognosis for a patient with asthma is good. Exposure to allergens found on farms may protect against asthma symptoms.
Bronchodilators for Asthma
Bronchodilators are prescription medications used to treat
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and
Side effects depend upon the type of bronchodilator used
- long-acting beta-adrenergic,
- short-acting beta-adrenergic,
- anticholinergic, or
- xanthine derivatives.
Drug interactions and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a row. Causes of chronic bronchitis include cigarette smoking, inhaled irritants, and underlying disease processes (such as asthma, or congestive heart failure). Symptoms include
- shortness of breath, and
Treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. Complications of chronic bronchitis include COPD and emphysema.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic cough
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
Treatment of COPD include smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
COPD vs. Emphysema Differences Similarities
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US. When a person first develops COPD, he or she may not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and become more severe and include:
- Difficulty breathing with exertion or physical activity, which in the advanced stages, eventually leads to breathlessness all of the time.
- Chronic cough
- Excessive phlegm production
- Upper respiratory infections like the flu or common cold.
- A barrel-shaped chest
- A bluish tint to the skin from lack of oxygen
- Chest tightness
- varenicline (Chantix) to quit smoking
- The antidepressant and bupropion (Zyban) to reduce nicotine withdrawals
- Drugs that are prescribed for another condition (off label), for example, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and clonidine (Catapres)
- Short-term bronchodilators, for example, albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- Long-term bronchodilators, for example, salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil)
- Anticholinergic bronchodilators, for example, ipratropium (Atrovent) and tiotropium (Spiriva)
- Combined drugs using steroids and long acting bronchodilators
- Roflumilast (Daxas, Daliresp)
You can prevent getting COPD or emphysema if you:
- Quit smoking and making healthy lifestyle changes
- Avoid secondhand smoke
- Avoid home and workplace air pollutants
- Prevent upper respiratory tract infections
There is a genetic cause of COPD called alpha-1 antitrypsin.
CDC. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)." Updated: Sep 16, 2016.
NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "COPD National Action Plan." Updated: May 15, 2017.
NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is COPD?" Updated: Apr 28, 2017.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)." Updated: Oct 31, 2014.
Victoria State Government. "Emphysema." Updated: Nov 2014.
Sharafkhaneh, A. et al. Emphysema. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2008 May 1; 5(4): 475â€“477. doi: 10.1513/pats.200708-126ET
Boka, K. "Emphysema." Medscape. Updated: Aug 31. 2016.
Kleinschmidt, P. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Emphysema in Emergency Medicine." Medscape. Updated: Jun 08, 2017.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
Emphysema (Lung Condition)Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and chronic bronchitis. Causes of emphysema include chronic cigarette smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Symptoms of emphysema include chronic cough, chest discomfort, breathlessness, and wheezing. Treatments include medication and lifestyle changes.
Exercise-Induced AsthmaExercise-induced asthma is asthma triggered by vigorous exercise. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and fatigue while exercising. Preventing exercise-induced asthma attacks involves using inhaled medicines before exercising, performing warm-up exercises and cooling down afterward, avoiding exercising outdoors when pollen counts are high, restricting exercise when you have a viral infection, and wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when exercising in cold weather.
fluticasone and salmeterol oral inhaler
Advair Diskus, Advair HFA (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol oral inhaler) is an inhalant drug used to treat
- chronic bronchitis, and
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Side effects include:
- Sinus infection
- Skin reactions
- Taste changes
- Musculoskeletal pain
Drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
NeutropeniaNeutropenia is a marked decrease in the number of neutrophils, neutrophils being a type of white blood cell (specifically a form of granulocyte) filled with neutrally-staining granules, tiny sacs of enzymes that help the cell to kill and digest microorganisms it has engulfed by phagocytosis.
terbutalineTerbutaline (Brethine, Bricanyl, and Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.) is a drug prescribed for the relief and prevention of bronchospasms by asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Terbutaline is also prescribed for the prevention of preterm labor. Side effects, warnings and precautions, drug interactions, and safety during pregnancy should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.