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Albuterol, Inhalation Suspension

Highlights for albuterol

  1. Albuterol inhalation suspension is not available as a generic drug. It’s available only as brand-name drugs. Brand names: ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, and Proventil HFA.
  2. Albuterol is available as an inhalation suspension, nebulizer solution, inhalation powder, immediate-release tablet, extended-release tablet, or oral syrup. You take this drug by swallowing it or inhaling it.
  3. Albuterol is used to relieve bronchospasm (tightening and swelling of the muscles around the airways) in children and adults with asthma. It’s also used to prevent exercise-induced asthma.
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Important warnings

Important warnings

  • Worsening breathing or wheezing (paradoxical bronchospasm): This drug can make your breathing or wheezing worse. This can be life-threatening. If this happens, stop taking this drug right away. Your doctor will give you a different medication. Paradoxical bronchospasms usually occur with the first use of a new canister or vial.
  • Worsening asthma: If you need more doses of this drug than usual, this might mean your asthma has gotten worse. If this happens, see your doctor. They may give you a different medication, such as an inhaled corticosteroid.

About

What is albuterol?

Albuterol is a prescription drug. It’s available as an inhalation suspension, nebulizer solution, inhalation powder, immediate-release tablet, extended-release tablet, or oral syrup.

Albutero linhalation suspension isn’t available as a generic drug. It’s only available as the brand-name drugs ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, and Proventil HFA.

To help treat asthma symptoms, albuterol may be taken as part of a combination therapy with inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, and bronchodilators.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat or prevent bronchospasm, which is tightening and swelling of the muscles around the airways. It’s used in people with asthma (reversible obstructive airway disease).

It’s also used to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm.

How it works

Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs called beta2-adrenergic agonist bronchodilators. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. They are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug helps to relax the airway muscles for up to 6–12 hours. This helps you breathe more easily.

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Side effects

Albuterol side effects

Albuterol inhalation suspension doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.

More common side effects

Some of the more common side effects that can occur with albuterol include:

  • fast or irregular heart rate
  • chest pain
  • shakiness
  • nervousness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • sore throat
  • runny nose

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 911 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:

  • tightening and swelling of the muscles around your airways (bronchospasm). Symptoms include:
    • trouble breathing
    • wheezing
  • serious allergic reaction. Symptoms include:
    • hives
    • skin rash
    • swelling of your face, eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat
    • trouble swallowing
    • worsening of your breathing problems, such as wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath
    • shock (loss of blood pressure and consciousness)
  • heart problems. Symptoms include:
    • faster heart rate
    • higher blood pressure
  • severe skin reactions, such as erythema multiforme and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, may rarely occur in children. Symptoms can include:
    • itching
    • burning
    • red lesions or a rash that spreads over your body
    • fever
    • chills

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.

Interactions

Albuterol may interact with other medications

Albuterol inhalation suspension 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.

Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with albuterol are listed below.

Blood pressure drugs

In general, people with asthma shouldn’t use blood pressure medications called beta blockers. Beta blockers block the effects that albuterol has on your breathing. This can cause severe bronchospasms and more trouble breathing in people with asthma.

Examples of beta blockers include:

  • propranolol
  • atenolol

Using other blood pressure drugs such as diuretics (water pills) with albuterol can cause heart rhythm changes and potassium levels that drop lower than normal. If these medications are given together, your doctor should monitor your potassium levels.

Examples of diuretics include:

  • furosemide
  • hydrochlorothiazide
  • chlorthalidone
  • bumetanide

Digoxin

Use caution when taking digoxin and albuterol together. Albuterol can lower digoxin levels in your body. This means that digoxinmay not work as well. You doctor may adjust your digoxin dose and monitor your digoxin blood levels during treatment.

Depression medications

Use extreme caution if you take albuterol with certain depression medications or take them within two weeks of each other. Taking these drugs together may significantly increase the heart effects of albuterol.

Examples of depression medications include:

  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as:
    • phenelzine
    • selegiline
    • tranylcypromine
  • tricyclic antidepressants, such as:
    • amitriptyline
    • imipramine
    • nortriptyline

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.

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Other warnings

Promethazine warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with heart disorders: Tell your doctor if you have a heart condition such as insufficiency, irregular heart rate, or high blood pressure. Albuterol may significantly change your blood pressure, heart rate, or pulse. This could make your heart condition worse.

For people with diabetes: Albuterol can make your blood sugar control worse. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

For people with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism): Albuterol may make your overactive thyroid worse. If you have this condition, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

For people with seizures: This drug can make your seizures worse. Talk to your doctor to find out if this drug is safe for you.

For people with low potassium levels: Albuterol can further lower your potassium levels. If you already have low potassium levels, this could cause negative heart effects.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: Albuterol is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Depending on what form you take, albuterol’s actions can last 6–12 hours. You shouldn’t take this drug more often than what your doctor recommends. If your symptoms become worse or you need to use this drug more often, seek medical attention right away.

For women who are breastfeeding: It isn’t known if albuterol passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors: Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different dosing schedule.

For children: The safety and effectiveness of this drug hasn’t been established in children under the age of 4 years. This drug shouldn’t be used in children younger than 4 years.

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Dosage

How to take albuterol

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it 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

Forms and strengths

Brand: ProAir HFA

  • Form: Inhalation aerosol (used in a metered dose inhaler)
  • Strengths: 8.5 g/200 actuations

Brand: Ventolin HFA

  • Form: Inhalation aerosol (used in a metered dose inhaler)
  • Strengths:
    • 18 g/200 actuations
    • 8 g/60 actuations

Brand: Proventil HFA

  • Form: Inhalation aerosol (used in a metered dose inhaler)
  • Strengths: 6.7 g/200 actuations

Dosage for bronchospasm

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The typical dosage is 2 inhalations taken by mouth every 4–6 hours. Some people may only need 1 inhalation every 4 hours.
  • You shouldn’t take more inhalations or take your drug more often.

Child dosage (ages 4–17 years)

  • The typical dosage is 2 inhalations taken by mouth every 4–6 hours. Some people may only need 1 inhalation every 4 hours.
  • Your child shouldn’t take more inhalations or take the medication more often.

Child dosage (ages 0–3 years)

The safety and effectiveness of this drug hasn’t been established in children younger than 4 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Dosage to prevent exercise-induced asthma

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The typical dosage is 2 inhalations taken by mouth, taken 15–30 minutes before starting exercise.

Child dosage (ages 4–17 years)

  • The typical dosage is 2 inhalations taken by mouth,taken 15–30 minutes before starting exercise.

Child dosage (ages 0–3 years)

The safety and effectiveness of this drug hasn’t been established in children younger than 4 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

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 speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Albuterol is used for short-term and long-term treatment. You can use this drug during flare-ups for your asthma. You might also need to take this drug long-term to relieve shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing due to your asthma.

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

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all: If you don’t take albuterol at all, your asthma might get worse. This can lead to irreversible scarring of your airway. You’ll likely have shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule: This drug is used on an as-needed basis. However, if you’re having acute flare-ups of asthma, you should be taking this drug 3 to 4 times a day. If you don’t take it on schedule during this time, you’ll likely have more trouble breathing.

If you take too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. You may have the following symptoms:

  • fast heartbeat
  • arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • jitteriness

If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local poison control center, or go to the nearest emergency room.

What to do if you miss a dose: This drug can be used as needed. If you’re using it on a scheduled basis (for asthma flare-ups) and miss a dose, take your dose as soon as you remember. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working: If this drug is working, your asthma symptoms should get better. You may not have as much shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking albuterol

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes albuterol for you.

General

  • You can take this drug with or without food.
  • Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor.

Storage

  • Store the metered dose inhaler at room temperature with the mouthpiece down.
  • Keep this drugat a temperature between 59°F and 77°F (15°C and 25°C).
  • Keep it away from extreme heat or cold. Temperatures above 120°F (49°C) may cause the canister to burst.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Medication usage

  • Shake the canister well before each use.
  • Don’t puncture the canister.
  • Don’t store the canister near heat or flame.
  • Don’t throw the canister into a fire or incinerator.
  • Avoid spraying it in your eyes.

Refills

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, nurse, or pharmacist will show you how to prime and use your metered dose inhaler.

Prime your metered dose inhaler as often as the manufacturer’s instructions say to do so.

To use your inhaler:

  • Shake the inhaler well before each spray. Take the cap off the mouthpiece of the actuator.
  • Hold the inhaler with the mouthpiece facing down.
  • Breathe out through your mouth and push as much air from your lungs as you can. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it.
  • Push the top of the canister all the way down while you breathe in deeply and slowly through your mouth.
  • Right after the spray comes out, take your finger off the canister. After you’ve breathed in all the way, take the inhaler out of your mouth and close your mouth.
  • Hold your breath for as long as you can, up to 10 seconds, and then breathe normally. If your doctor told you to use more sprays, wait 1 minute, shake, and use it again.
  • Put the cap back on the mouthpiece after every time you use the inhaler. Make sure the cap snaps firmly into place.
  • Clean your inhaler by following the manufacturer's instructions.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor your lung function. This will tell if your medication is working. This monitoring may be done using spirometry.

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Alternatives

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.

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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