Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) — Understand the benefits and risks of these asthma medications.
In some studies, long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) have been linked to life-threatening asthma attacks. The risk appears to be greatest when a LABA is used without also using an inhaled corticosteroid. In contrast, taking a LABA with an inhaled corticosteroid is appropriate treatment for many people who have asthma. Don't stop any of your asthma medications before checking with your doctor.
LABAs are used on a regular schedule to open narrowed airways and prevent asthma attacks. But because they may increase the risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack, the Food and Drug Administration warns that LABAs should never be used without an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma. So if you're taking a LABA without an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma, check with your doctor.
A LABA should be taken with an inhaled corticosteroid, such as:
If your doctor recommends a LABA and an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma, most likely you will use a single inhaler that combines both a corticosteroid and a LABA. There are four of these medications on the market:
Children who need both a LABA and a corticosteroid should take them only as a combination medication, and not as separate medications.
The benefits of LABAs to keep asthma under control generally outweigh the risks — if they're used as recommended. If you have any questions about your asthma medications, talk to your doctor.