Ipratropium solution | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

ipratropium, Inhalation solution

All Brands

  • Atrovent (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for ipratropium

Inhalation solution
1

Ipratropium is used to prevent bronchospasms (episodes of breathing problems) that are caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

2

You shouldn’t use this drug alone for bronchospasm attacks. You’ll need a different medication that acts more quickly to help you breathe.

3

Ipratropium comes in the form of an inhalation solution given through a nebulizer machine. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to use this product. It’s also available as a nasal spray and a pressurized inhalation solution called a metered dose inhaler.

4

The standard dose of ipratropium nebulized solution is 1 vial given 3–4 times per day. Your doses should be spaced 6–8 hours apart.

5

The more common side effects of this drug include dry mouth, headache, dizziness, bronchitis, worse COPD symptoms, and shortness of breath.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Acute shortness of breath

You shouldn’t use ipratropium alone for bronchospasm attacks. You’ll need a different medication that acts more quickly to help you breathe.

Worsening symptoms

Ipratropium may cause a “paradoxical bronchospasm” where your breathing and wheezing get worse instead of better. This can be life threatening. Call your doctor right away if your COPD symptoms get worse. You may have shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.

Urinary problems

Ipratropium can cause trouble urinating (urinary retention) in people with prostate problems or bladder problems. Let your doctor know if you have problems urinating.

Drug features

Ipratropium is a prescription drug. It’s available as a nasal spray, pressurized inhalation solution known as a metered dose inhaler (MDI), and inhalation solution given through a nebulizer machine.

Ipratropium nebulizer is only available as a generic drug.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Why it's used

Ipratropium is used to prevent bronchospasms (episodes of breathing problems) that are caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

How it works

Ipratropium belongs to a class of drugs called anticholinergics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Ipratropium belongs to a class of drugs called anticholinergics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Ipratropium works by blocking the chemical acetylcholine from affecting your lungs. This causes the smooth muscle in your lungs to relax and open up your airways. This makes it easier for you to breathe.

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ipratropium Side Effects

Inhalation solution

More Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects of ipratropium include:

  • dry mouth

  • blurry vision

  • headache

  • dizziness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • fast or irregular heart rate

  • eye problems. These may happen if you accidentally spray your inhaler into your eyes. Symptoms include:

    • eye pain
    • eye redness
    • seeing circles (halos) around lights or objects
    • dilated pupils
    • very blurry vision
  • bronchitis. Symptoms include:

    • fever
    • cough
    • chest pain
    • trouble breathing
    • wheezing
  • worsening symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as:

    • cough
    • tightness in your chest
    • trouble breathing
    • wheezing
  • shortness of breath

  • urinary tract infection. Symptoms include:

    • fever
    • a burning pain when you urinate
  • allergic reactions. Symptoms include:

    • itching
    • skin rash
    • hives
    • swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • trouble breathing or swallowing

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Ipratropium can cause dizziness and vision problems (including blurry vision). You shouldn’t drive, use machinery, or do similar activities that require alertness until you know how this medication affects you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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ipratropium May Interact with Other Medications

Inhalation solution

Ipratropium can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. 

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Antihistamines

Taking these drugs together will increase your risk for side effects from ipratropium. These include blurry vision, dry mouth, problems urinating, constipation, and confusion.

These drugs include:

  • diphenhydramine
  • desloratadine
  • loratadine
  • cetirizine
  • fexofenadine
  • hydroxyzine

Depression drugs

Taking these drugs with certain antidepressants will increase your risk for side effects from ipratropium. These include blurry vision, dry mouth, problems urinating, constipation, and confusion. 

These drugs include:

  • amitriptyline
  • nortriptyline

Overactive bladder drugs

Taking these drugs together will increase your risk for side effects from ipratropium. These include blurry vision, dry mouth, problems urinating, constipation, and confusion.

These drugs include:

  • oxybutynin
  • tolterodine

Parkinson's disease drugs

Taking these drugs together will increase your risk for side effects from ipratropium. These include blurry vision, dry mouth, problems urinating, constipation, and confusion.

These drugs include:

  • benztropine
  • trihexyphenidyl

Stomach drugs

Taking these drugs together will increase your risk for side effects from ipratropium. These include blurry vision, dry mouth, problems urinating, constipation, and confusion. 

These drugs include:

  • atropine
  • dicyclomine
  • hyoscyamine

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Ipratropium warnings
glaucoma
People with narrow-angle glaucoma

Use this drug with caution if you have the eye problem narrow-angle glaucoma. It may make your condition worse. Tell your doctor if you have a history of narrow-angle glaucoma.

urinary problems
People with urinary problems

Ipratropium can make the urinary problems prostatic hypertrophy or bladder-neck obstruction worse. This drug could also make it harder for you to urinate. Let your doctor know if you have urinary problems.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Ipratropium is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things: 

  1. Research in animals has not shown a risk to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in humans to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Animal studies do not always predict the way humans would respond. Therefore, this drug should only be used in pregnancy if clearly needed.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Ipratropium may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed. 

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for children
For children

This drug is only approved to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which doesn’t occur in children. This drug shouldn’t be used in children younger than 18 years old.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • This drug isn’t working as well anymore and your symptoms return.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have to use ipratropium more frequently than usual.
allergies
Allergies

Ipratropium can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include: 

  • itching
  • skin rash
  • hives
  • swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • trouble breathing or swallowing

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms. 

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to ipratropium or atropine. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take ipratropium (Dosage)

Inhalation solution

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Generic: ipratropium

Form: 2.5 mL single-use vials
Strengths: 0.02%
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • The standard dose is 500 mcg (1 vial) given 3–4 times per day using a nebulizer machine.
  • Your doses should be spaced 6–8 hours apart.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medicine is only approved to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which doesn’t occur in children. This drug shouldn’t be used in children younger than 18 years.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Ipratropium comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

Your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms (cough, wheezing, and trouble breathing) may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your COPD symptoms may get worse if you don’t take ipratropium as directed by your doctor. If you think ipratropium isn’t working as well for you anymore, don’t change how often you take it without talking with your doctor.

If you take too much

Since you are inhaling ipratropium, it acts mainly in your lungs. An overdose isn’t likely.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your COPD symptoms should improve.

Ipratropium is used for long-term treatment.

Store ipratropium nebulized solution at room temperature

  • Keep it from 59–86°F (15–30°C).
  • Protect ipratropium nebulized solution from light.
  • Store unused vials of ipratropium nebulized solution in the foil pouch.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

Your doctor may have you monitor your lung function. You may be asked to record your symptoms or check how well your lungs are working with a peak flow meter.

Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will show you how to use your solution for nebulizer. Read all instructions carefully before using this drug.

You may need to buy a peak flow meter to check your lung function at home.

You need a nebulizer (machine that turns the liquid solution into a mist, which can then be inhaled).

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include: 

Lung function. Your doctor will do breathing tests called pulmonary function tests (PFTs). Your doctor may have you monitor your lung function at home. You may be asked to record your symptoms or check how well your lungs are working with a peak flow meter.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does ipratropium Cost?

Inhalation solution

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on December 4, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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