What is this medicine?
Albuterol(also known as salbutamol) is a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways and increases air flow to the lungs. Albuterol inhalation is used to treat or prevent bronchospasm in people with reversible obstructive airway disease. Albuterol is also used to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm. Albuterol inhalation may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
How should I use this medicine?
Use albuterol inhalation exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Use only the prescribed dose of this medicine and follow all patient instructions for safe use. Talk with your doctor about your individual risks and benefits of using albuterol.
When using the albuterol inhaler device for the first time, prime it by spraying 4 test sprays into the air, away from your face. Shake well before priming. Also prime the inhaler if you have not used it for 2 weeks or longer, or if you have dropped the inhaler.
The instructions below are for standard use of the inhaler and nebulizer devices. Your doctor may want you to use your device differently. Use only the inhaler device provided with your medicine or you may not get the correct dose.
To use the albuterol inhaler:
- Shake the canister well just before each spray.
- Uncap the mouthpiece of the albuterol inhaler. Breathe out fully. Put the mouthpiece into your mouth and close your lips. Breathe in slowly while pushing down on the canister. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, then breathe out slowly.
- If you use more than one inhalation at a time, wait at least 1 minute before using the second inhalation and shake the inhaler again.
- Keep your albuterol inhaler clean and dry, and store it with the cap on the mouthpiece. Clean your inhaler once a week by removing the canister and placing the mouthpiece under warm running water for at least 30 seconds. Shake out the excess water and allow the parts to air dry completely before putting the inhaler back together.
To use the albuterol solution with a nebulizer:
Measure the correct amount of albuterol using the dropper provided, or use the proper number of ampules. Place the liquid into the medication chamber of the nebulizer.
- Attach the mouthpiece or face mask to the drug chamber. Then, attach the drug chamber to the compressor.
- Sit upright in a comfortable position. Place the mouthpiece into your mouth or put the face mask on, covering your nose and mouth. Turn on the compressor.
- Breathe in slowly and evenly until you have inhaled all of the medicine (usually 5 to 15 minutes). The treatment is complete when no more mist is formed by the nebulizer and the drug chamber is empty.
- Clean the nebulizer after each use. Follow the cleaning directions that came with your nebulizer.
Talk with your doctor if any of your asthma medications do not seem to work as well in treating or preventing attacks. If it seems like you need to use more of any of your medications in a 24-hour period, talk with your doctor.
An increased need albuterol could be an early sign of a serious asthma attack.
It is important to keep albuterol inhalation on hand at all times. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. Keep using all of your other medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Store albuterol inhalation at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Extreme heat can cause the medicine canister to burst. Do not store it in your car on hot days. Do not throw an empty canister into open flame.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to albuterol.
To make sure you can safely use albuterol, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
- heart disease, high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure;
- a heart rhythm disorder;
- a seizure disorder such as epilepsy;
- diabetes; or
- overactive thyroid.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether albuterol will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. It is not known whether albuterol passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using albuterol. An inhaler should not be given to a child younger than 4 years old. Albuterol solution in a nebulizer should not be given to a child younger than 2 years of age.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line. An overdose of albuterol can be fatal.
Overdose symptoms may include nervousness, headache, tremor, dry mouth, chest pain or heavy feeling, rapid or uneven heart rate, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, dizziness, seizure (convulsions), feeling lig ht-headed or fainting.
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
It is important to keep albuterol on hand at all times. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. Keep using all of your other medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Talk with your doctor if any of your asthma medications do not seem to work as well in treating or preventing attacks. If it seems like you need to use more of any of your medications in a 24-hour period, talk with your doctor. An increased need for medication could be an early sign of a serious asthma attack.
Avoid getting this medication in your eyes. If this does happen, rinse the eyes with water and seek medical attention.
What side effects may I notice from this medicine?
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to albuterol: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- bronchospasm (wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing), especially after starting a new canister of this medicine;
- chest pain and fast, pounding, or uneven heart beats;
- tremor, nervousness;
- low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or
- dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Less serious albuterol side effects may include:
- headache, dizziness;
- sleep problems (insomnia);
- cough, hoarseness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose;
- mild nausea, vomiting;
- dry mouth and throat;
- muscle pain; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect albuterol inhalation?
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:
- a diuretic (water pill);
- digoxin (digitalis, Lanoxin);
- a beta-blocker such as atenolol (Tenormin, Tenoretic), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), metoprolol (Dutoprol, Lopressor, Toprol), nadolol (Corgard), nebivolol (Bystolic), propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran), sotalol (Betapace), and others;
- an antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Vanatrip, Limbitrol), doxepin (Sinequan, Silenor), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and others;
- an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate); or
- other bronchodilators such as levalbuterol (Xopenex), pirbuterol (Maxair), terbutaline (Brethine, Bricanyl), salmeterol (Advair, Serevent), metaproterenol (Alupent, Metaprel), or isoproterenol (Isuprel Mistometer).
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with albuterol. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.