Fluticasone and salmeterol are two classifications of medication used in asthma treatment. Asthma patients may use both medications because they work differently to treat symptoms of asthma. Other uses of fluticasone and salmeterol include treating other respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis. The medications can be used individually in separate asthma inhalers or in one inhaler that combines the two.
Asthma symptoms may include wheezing, chest tightness, and airway inflammation. Different types of medications are needed to treat different symptoms. Salmeterol is considered a long-acting bronchodilator. It treats constriction of the airway, which can cause shortness of breath and wheezing. Long-acting medications such as salmeterol, work for about 12 hours.
Fluticasone is classified as a corticosteroid. It is used to treat the airway inflammation that may also occur with asthma. Fluticasone and salmeterol are often prescribed as a combination medication in an oral inhaler, such as Advair ®.
People using salmeterol and fluticasone need to be aware that neither medication is used to treat sudden asthma symptoms. Fast-acting bronchodilators, such as albuterol, are used to treat sudden symptoms, because they work quicker. Long-acting medications, such as fluticasone and salmeterol, are used as maintenance medications to help prevent symptoms from developing.
Medication that combines fluticasone and salmeterol comes in the form of a meter-dose inhaler or a diskus, which is a dry-powder inhaler. Either form of medication delivery allows the same dosage of medication to be delivered to the lungs. Asthma inhalers that contain both medications generally comes in varying dosage strengths. The dose of salmeterol is consistently 50 mcg, but the dose of fluticasone is either 100, 250, or 500 mcg.
Certain inhalers containing fluticasone and salmeterol are approved for adults and children older than four years old. Although it is essential to follow a doctor’s prescription, the inhaler is often used twice a day. Pregnant women should always consult their physicians before using medications containing fluticasone and salmeterol.
Patients should rinse their mouth after using the inhaler to prevent an oral yeast infection and throat irritation, which are two possible side effects. Other side effects that can occur when using both medications include nausea, increased heart rate, and cough. Serious side effect are not common but include trouble breathing, fainting, and confusion. All side effects should be reported to the patient’s doctor to determine if the medications should be continued.