Rescue Medication

What is Rescue Medication?

Rescue medication works quickly to help you breathe better during a sudden attack or worsening of your symptoms, sometimes called an “exacerbation” or “flare up”. If your condition is suitable for rescue medications, your doctor may prescribe you rescue medication or a rescue pack, which you keep at home and should be used as your doctor has advised. If you are having a flare up, please contact your GP, Practice Nurse or Specialist Respiratory Team if you have been asked to do so, so that they can advise which, if any, of your rescue medications you should start- different types of flare ups need different treatment. If you are unsure when you should be taking your rescue medication please contact your healthcare provider for further support.

Signs that you might need to use your rescue medication include:

Rescue medication is different to other drugs that you take regularly to prevent attacks or generally slow down the course of your disease.

It’s important to know where your rescue medication is and make sure you do not run out. If you find that you are having to use your rescue medication regularly, speak to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team, it might mean your treatment plan needs to be adjusted.

What kinds of Rescue Medication are there?

The type of rescue medication that your doctor gives you will depend on your lung condition.

One of the common types of rescue medication that can be used by people with a number of different lung conditions, is a short-acting bronchodilator. Short-acting bronchodilators work quickly to expand your airways and help you breathe more easily. They are usually taken with an inhaler and are sometimes called a “reliever inhaler”.

Other types of rescue medication given to people with lung conditions include steroids and antibiotics.

Where can I find out more?

If you think you might benefit from having rescue medication then speak to your GP, practice nurse or specialist lung team. They will be able to advise if rescue medication is right for you, prescribe you the right kind of rescue medication and help you understand when to use it. If you have had to take your rescue medication, don’t forget to put in a repeat prescription to have a new pack to replace the one you have used.

The sites listed below have lots more helpful information on managing flare ups and rescue medication:

ASTHMA+LUNG UK- Breathlessness

ASTHMA+LUNG UK- Bronchiectasis

ASTHMA+LUNG UK- How is asthma treated?

ASTHMA+LUNG UK- Asthma attacks