Xopenex is used to treat and prevent asthma attacks. It can also be used to treat and prevent airway spasms in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The medication works by opening up the airways that become constricted during an attack. It comes in a liquid form that is used in a nebulizer. Side effects of Xopenex include viral infections, shakiness, and a runny nose.
Normally, air moves easily into and out of the lungs through a network of airways. However, during an asthma attack, the muscles around these airways tighten. This narrows the airways and makes it harder to breathe. This is called bronchospasm.
Xopenex is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around the airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs. Xopenex also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.
Xopenex is similar to another medication, albuterol. While albuterol products contain both the inactive and active forms of the molecule, Xopenex contains only the active form of the albuterol molecule.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed August 31, 2012.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed April 9, 2007.
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