Salmeterol is used as a long-term (maintenance) treatment to prevent or decrease wheezing and trouble breathing caused by asthma or ongoing lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema). It should only be used long-term if your asthma symptoms are not controlled by your other asthma medications (such as inhaled corticosteroids). Salmeterol must not be used alone to treat asthma. (See also Warning section.) It is also used to prevent asthma brought on by exercise (bronchospasm). Salmeterol works by relaxing the muscles around the airways so that they open up and you can breathe more easily. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school.
This medication does not work right away and should not be used for sudden attacks of breathing trouble. Your doctor must prescribe a quick-relief medicine/inhaler (e.g., albuterol) for sudden shortness of breath/asthma attacks while you are on this medication. You should always have a quick-relief inhaler with you. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
This medication should be used in combination with other medications such as long-acting inhaled corticosteroids. However, it should not be used with other long-acting inhaled beta agonists (e.g., formoterol, combination salmeterol/fluticasone) since this may increase your risk for side effects.
It is recommended that children and teenagers, who need to use salmeterol to treat their asthma, should use a combination salmeterol/fluticasone product. Check with your child's doctor to see if this product is the right product for your child.
In patients with asthma, this medication should not be used when breathing problems can be controlled with inhaled corticosteroids (e.g., flunisolide, fluticasone) and occasional use of quick-relief inhalers. (See also Warning section.) If you are regularly taking corticosteroids by mouth (e.g., prednisone), you should not stop using them or use this inhaled medication instead. Continue to follow your doctor's instructions for taking the corticosteroids by mouth.