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What Is Advair Diskus?

Learn How Advair Diskus Can Help Your Asthma

By

Updated May 06, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Advair Diskus

Advair Diskus

Photo © GlaxoSmithKline

Advair Diskus is a controller asthma medication that combines two drugs into one inhaler (you receive both an inhaled steroid and a long-acting beta agonist with each inhalation).

More specifically, Advair contains:

  • Fluticasone (Flovent) -- a steroid that improves asthma symptoms by decreasing irritation, inflammation, and swelling.

  • Salmeterol (Serevent) -- a long-acting bronchodilator, or LABA, that relieves bronchoconstriction. Advair provides bronchodilation by relaxing smooth muscle in the lungs and making the airways wider, thereby decreasing symptoms.

Advair Diskus is designed to improve symptoms such as:

Advantages of Advair

  • More convenient than taking medicine separately
  • Increases compliance with controller medication
  • Lower doses of inhaled corticosteroid that can minimize potential side effects

Disadvantages of Advair

  • Less flexibility in dosing
  • If Advair is used to relieve acute symptoms, you may receive a much higher dose of fluticasone than is currently recommended

Form and Dosage of Advair

Advair Diskus is a dry powder inhaler. Dry powder inhalers are breath-activated. This means that you don't have to shake Advair or use a spacer. The Advair dispenser contains a dose counter built into it, so you'll always know when it's time to get a refill.

Advair Diskus comes in 3 strengths: Advair 100/50, Advair 250/50, and Advair 500/50. The 100, 250, and 500 refers to the amount (micrograms) of fluticasone in each inhalation, while the amount of salmeterol always stays the same at 50 micrograms.

Generally, Advair is taken one puff twice per day, approximately 12 hours apart. If your asthma symptoms worsen or do not improve, your doctor will likely step you up to one of the formulations with more fluticasone. Advair needs to be taken every day to improve your asthma symptoms.

Additionally, a few studies have suggested the possibility of using a combination product as your only inhaler for both control and acute symptoms, but you should discuss this with your asthma doctor before attempting it.

Potential Side Effects of Advair

As with most other drugs, only a small percentage of patients experience side effects. Potential side effects of Advair are similar to those of both inhaled steroids and LABAs.

Advair carries a "black box" warning like other medicines that contain a LABA. There has been some concern regarding whether LABA treatment increases severity of asthma exacerbations and possibly increases the risk of fatal asthma. Even though a LABA may decrease the frequency of asthma episodes and severity of symptoms, a LABA may make asthma episodes more severe when they do occur.

Summary

Advair can be a useful tool for patients that are not able to achieve control of their asthma on an inhaled steroid alone. You and your physician need to discuss the possible risks and benefits of combination therapy, and make sure you notify your physician of any worsening of your asthma symptoms.

Sources:

Nelson HS. Combination Therapy of Long-acting β agonists and Inhaled Corticosteroids in the Management of Chronic Asthma. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 2005, 5:123–129.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: April 3, 2011. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

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