Foolproof Techniques to Easily Memorize Respiratory Drugs

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Imagine having your very own technique for memorizing all the respiratory drugs. At, we’ve put out our drug cards and made easier for you to remember one of the most complicated sets of medications in your nursing career.

Mike has stated that you just have to remember two categories when dealing with respiratory drugs – your BAM category and your SLM (pronounced as “slam”) category.

Easy, right?

Once you’ve memorized these acronyms by heart, you’ll never go wrong with the identification and administration of respiratory drugs.

Let’s get into it.

BAM: The Bronchodilator Team

Some of the most popular bronchodilators are albuterol, methylxanthines, and anticholinergic agents.

  • B stands for beta2-agonist. These are medications ending in “-terol.” One good example is albuterol (Solu-Medrol).
  • represents the anticholinergic agents that end in “-pium.” These drugs decrease mucus production in the bronchioles. An effective way to remember this kind of drug is the thought that, if you can’t pee with them, it’s anticholinergic.
  • is for methylxanthines which are drugs ending in “-phylline.” These drugs cause a sympathomimetic response that essentially increases heart rate and expands the lungs, making you breathe better. Caffeine has a similar effect. Theophylline is a typical example.

SLM: The Anti-Inflammatory Team

Anti-inflammatory drugs cause the smooth muscles and the major pathways (bronchi and bronchioles) of the lungs to relax.

  • S stands for steroids; corticosteroids ending in “-sone.” Prednisone falls under this group.

Word of caution: do not discontinue this drug abruptly. Naturally, the human body produces steroids. Consumption of corticosteroids for a period of time will make the body think that it no longer needs to secrete steroids. So the adrenal glands will eventually shut down its normal production of corticosteroids. Sudden cessation of intake will result in withdrawal symptoms, which is why it is advisable to taper off corticosteroids to allow the adrenal gland to gradually regenerate and resume regular steroid production that the body needs.

  • L is for “-leukast.” Leukotrienes, the blood cells that cause prostaglandin production leading to inflammation, are stabilized by this drug. Once leukotrienes are controlled, the bronchi and the bronchioles will start to relax. Singulair (montelukast sodium) is a leukotriene receptor antagonist.

Tip: Remember leukotrienes in singulair by memorizing, “Luke likes to sing.”

  • M stands for mast cells stabilizers, much like Cromolyn. As the name implies, this type of drug stabilizes mast cells. What is the main function of mast cells? They dilate the blood vessels which causes blood to rush into the smooth muscle.

What would happen if there is a mass of blood within the lining of the smooth muscles of the bronchi and bronchioles? There will be the presence of puffiness and inflammation. Cromolyn acts on reducing the swelling through stabilization of the mast cells.

Tip: To help you remember this, just think about “mast of crom” which is basically people who drive with massive chrome rims. I hope you get the point.

So don’t forget, for your respiratory drugs, all you need to keep in mind are: BAM and SLM.