Xopenex (levalbuterol) is a prescription drug used to treat and help prevent sudden airway tightness from certain lung conditions. Xopenex can cause mild to serious side effects, such as dizziness and heart-related side effects.

Specifically, Xopenex is prescribed to treat and help prevent bronchospasm (sudden airway tightness). It’s used in adults and certain children with specific lung conditions, such as asthma.

The active ingredient in Xopenex is levalbuterol. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) The drug comes in two forms:

Unless stated otherwise in this article, the term “Xopenex” refers to both forms of the drug.

Keep reading to learn about the common, mild, and serious side effects Xopenex can cause. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.

Below are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who used Xopenex and Xopenex HFA in studies. These side effects can vary depending on which form of the drug is being used.

More common side effects in people using Xopenex include:

More common side effects in people using Xopenex HFA include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Mild side effects have been reported with Xopenex and Xopenex HFA. These side effects can vary depending on which form of the drug is being used.

Mild side effects in people using Xopenex include:

Mild side effects in people using Xopenex HFA include:

  • general body pain
  • accidents that lead to injury
  • swelling inside the nose
  • swelling of the airways
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • dizziness*
  • mild allergic reaction*†

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop using Xopenex or Xopenex HFA unless your doctor recommends it.

Xopenex may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the prescribing information for Xopenex or Xopenex HFA for details.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using this drug. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of Xopenex or Xopenex HFA. But allergic reaction has been reported with both forms of the drug since they became available.

Serious side effects have been reported with Xopenex and Xopenex HFA. These include:

If you develop serious side effects while using Xopenex or Xopenex HFA, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using this drug. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of Xopenex or Xopenex HFA. But allergic reaction has been reported with both forms of the drug since they became available.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Xopenex, visit MedWatch.

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about Xopenex’s side effects.

How do side effects of Xopenex compare with those of albuterol?

Many side effects of Xopenex are similar to those of albuterol. This is because the active ingredient in Xopenex is levalbuterol, which is very similar to albuterol.

For example, both Xopenex and albuterol may cause diarrhea, headache, and sore throat. And both drugs may cause worsened bronchospasm and heart-related side effects.*

Both Xopenex and albuterol are available in aerosol inhalers and as a liquid solution for use with a nebulizer. Albuterol comes in several other forms as well. Like Xopenex, the specific side effects of albuterol may vary depending on which form of the drug is being used.

For lists of possible side effects of Xopenex, see the sections above. To learn more about the side effects of albuterol aerosol inhaler, see this article. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Does Xopenex cause long-term side effects?

It’s unlikely. Long-term side effects weren’t reported in studies of Xopenex or Xopenex HFA. Most side effects are expected to go away soon after you start or stop using either form of the drug.

If you’re concerned about possible long-term side effects from Xopenex, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more about some of the side effects Xopenex may cause.

Dizziness

Dizziness was a common side effect reported in studies of Xopenex and Xopenex HFA. Dizziness may cause symptoms such as loss of coordination and feeling lightheaded or faint.

What might help

If you have dizziness while using Xopenex, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to manage this side effect. For example, they may advise you to avoid moving or switching positions suddenly while you’re dizzy. They may also recommend that you sit down and rest until the dizziness passes.

For other tips on managing dizziness, see this article. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Heart-related side effects

Certain heart-related side effects were more common than others in studies of Xopenex and Xopenex HFA.

For example, heart palpitations (a feeling of skipped or extra heartbeats) and fast heart rate were common with Xopenex but weren’t reported with Xopenex HFA. High blood pressure was rare with both Xopenex and Xopenex HFA. Irregular heart rhythm wasn’t reported in studies but has been reported with Xopenex and Xopenex HFA since they became available.

What might help

If you have heart-related side effects during Xopenex treatment, talk with your doctor. They can recommend whether to continue with Xopenex or switch to a different treatment.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Xopenex can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of Xopenex or Xopenex HFA. But allergic reaction has been reported with both forms since they became available.

Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin (usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet)
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:

  • an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Xopenex, they’ll decide whether you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Xopenex, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Xopenex treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking a new drug or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were using when you had the side effect
  • how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
  • what your symptoms were
  • how your symptoms affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Xopenex affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Below is important information you should consider before starting Xopenex treatment.

Warnings

Xopenex can sometimes cause harmful effects in people with certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Xopenex is a good treatment option for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting this drug. Be sure to tell them if any of the following factors apply to you:

Alcohol and Xopenex

There are no known interactions between alcohol and Xopenex. If you have questions about consuming alcohol during Xopenex treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding with Xopenex

There’s limited information about the safety of Xopenex use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Pregnancy

It’s not known whether it’s safe to use Xopenex during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting treatment with this medication.

If you use Xopenex while pregnant, consider signing up for the drug’s pregnancy registry by visiting the website or calling 877-311-8972. A pregnancy registry collects information about the safety of certain drugs when used during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding

It isn’t known whether Xopenex is safe to use while breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before starting this medication.

Like most drugs, Xopenex can cause a number of side effects that range from mild to serious. But most are temporary and go away after a few days to weeks. If you have questions about side effects Xopenex can cause, talk with your doctor. Examples of questions to help get you started include:

  • Do I have a higher risk of side effects from Xopenex because of my health history?
  • Does my age increase my risk of any side effects from Xopenex?
  • Could other medications I take increase my risk of side effects from Xopenex?

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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 another 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.