Albuterol Oral Inhalation : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Albuterol is used to prevent and treat shortness of breath, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, and tightness in the chest caused by lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways). Albuterol inhalation powder and spray for oral inhalation are also used to prevent breathing difficulties during exercise. Albuterol inhalation spray (Proair HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA) is used in adults and children 4 years of age and older. Albuterol powder for oral inhalation (Proair Respiclick) is used in children 12 years of age and older. Albuterol solution for oral inhalation is used in adults and children 2 years of age and older. Albuterol is in a class of medications called bronchodilators. It works by relaxing and opening the air passages to the lungs to facilitate breathing.
How should this medicine be used?
Albuterol comes as a solution (liquid) to be inhaled by mouth with a special jet nebulizer (machine that turns the medicine into a mist that can be inhaled) and as a spray or powder to be inhaled by mouth with an inhaler. When inhalation spray or oral inhalation powder is used to treat or prevent symptoms of lung disease, it is usually used every 4 to 6 hours as needed. When inhalation spray or oral inhalation powder is used to prevent respiratory distress during exercise, it is generally used 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. The nebulizer solution is generally used three or four times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Use albuterol exactly as directed. Do not use more or less or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if you feel like inhaling albuterol is no longer controlling your symptoms. If you have been told to use albuterol as needed to treat your symptoms and you find that you need to use the medication more often than usual, call your doctor.
Albuterol controls the symptoms of asthma and other lung diseases, but it does not cure them. Do not stop using albuterol without consulting your doctor.
Each albuterol aerosol inhaler is designed to deliver 60 or 200 puffs, depending on its size. Each albuterol powder inhaler is designed to deliver 200 puffs. After the number of puffs indicated on the label have been used, subsequent puffs may not contain the correct amount of medicine. Throw away the aerosol inhaler after you have used the number of puffs indicated on the label, even if it still contains some liquid and continues to deliver an aerosol when pressed. Throw away the powder inhaler 13 months after opening the foil package, after the expiration date on the package, or after you have used the number of puffs indicated on the label, whichever comes first.
Your inhaler may come with an attached counter that keeps track of the number of puffs you have used. The counter also tells you when to call your doctor or pharmacist to refill your prescription and when there are no puffs left in the inhaler. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to use the meter. If you have this type of inhaler, you should not try to change the numbers or remove the counter from the inhaler.
If your inhaler does not come with a counter attached, you will need to keep track of the number of inhalations you have used. You can divide the number of puffs on your inhaler by the number of puffs you use each day to find out how many days your inhaler will last. Do not float the container in water to see if it still contains medicine.
The inhaler that comes with the albuterol spray is designed to be used with only one bottle of albuterol. Never use it to inhale any other medicine and do not use any other inhaler to inhale albuterol.
Be careful not to get inhaled albuterol in your eyes.
Do not use your albuterol inhaler when it is near a flame or source of heat. The inhaler can explode if exposed to very high temperatures.
Before using your albuterol inhaler or jet nebulizer for the first time, read the written instructions that come with the inhaler or nebulizer. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or respiratory therapist to show you how to use it. Practice using your inhaler or nebulizer while you watch.
If your child will be using the inhaler, make sure they know how to use it. Watch your child each time he uses the inhaler to make sure he is using it correctly.
To inhale the aerosol using an inhaler, follow these steps:
- Remove the dust cap from the end of the nozzle. If the dust cap was not attached to the nozzle, check the nozzle for dirt or other objects. Make sure the canister is fully and firmly inserted into the mouthpiece.
- If you are using the inhaler for the first time or if you have not used it in more than 14 days, you will need to prime it. You may also need to prime the inhaler if it has been dropped. Ask your pharmacist or check the manufacturer’s information if this happens. To prime the inhaler, shake it well and then press down on the canister 4 times to release 4 sprays into the air, away from your face. Be careful not to get albuterol in your eyes.
- Shake the inhaler well.
- Exhale as completely as possible through your mouth.
- Hold the container with the spout at the bottom, toward you and the container pointing up. Place the open end of the mouthpiece in your mouth. Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through the mouthpiece and at the same time press the cup once to spray the medicine into your mouth.
- Try to hold your breath for 10 seconds. Remove the inhaler and breathe out slowly.
- If you were told to use 2 puffs, wait 1 minute and then repeat steps 3 through 7.
- Replace the protective cap on the inhaler.
- Clean your inhaler regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about cleaning your inhaler.
To inhale the powder using the inhaler, follow these steps. Do not use the Respiclick inhaler with a spacer:
- If you are using a new inhaler for the first time, remove it from the foil package. Look at the dose counter on the back of the inhaler and verify that you see the number 200 in the window.
- Holding the inhaler upright, with the cap at the bottom and the inhaler pointing up, load the dose by opening the dust cap on the end of the mouthpiece until it clicks. Do not open the cap unless you are ready to use the inhaler. Each time the protective cap is opened, one dose is ready to inhale. You will see the number go down on the dose counter. Do not waste doses by opening the inhaler unless you are inhaling a dose.
- Exhale as completely as possible through your mouth. Do not blow or exhale into the inhaler.
- Place the mouthpiece firmly between your lips in your mouth. Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your mouth. Do not inhale through your nose. Make sure your fingers or lips are not blocking the ventilation above the mouthpiece.
- Take the inhaler out of your mouth and hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as you can. Do not blow or exhale through the inhaler.
- Close the cap tightly over the mouthpiece.
- If you are taking 2 puffs, repeat steps 2-6.
- Keep the inhaler clean and dry at all times. To clean your inhaler, use a clean, dry tissue or cloth. Do not wash or put any part of your inhaler in water.
To inhale the solution using a nebulizer, follow these steps;
- Take a vial of albuterol solution out of the foil pouch. Leave the rest of the vials in the bag until you are ready to use them.
- Look at the liquid in the vial. It should be clear and colorless. Do not use the vial if the liquid is cloudy or discolored.
- Twist the top of the vial and squeeze all the liquid into the nebulizer reservoir. If you are using your nebulizer to inhale other medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can put the other medications in the reservoir along with the albuterol.
- Attach the nebulizer reservoir to the mouthpiece or mask.
- Connect the nebulizer to the compressor.
- Put the mouthpiece in your mouth or put on the mask. Sit in an upright, comfortable position and turn on the compressor.
- Breathe quietly, deeply and evenly for about 5 to 15 minutes until mist stops forming in the nebulizer chamber.
- Clean your nebulizer regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about cleaning your nebulizer.
Other uses for this medicine
Inhaled albuterol is also sometimes used to treat or improve muscle paralysis (the inability to move parts of the body) in patients with a condition that causes bouts of paralysis. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medicine may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using albuterol inhalation,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to albuterol (Vospire ER, in Combivent, in Duoneb), levalbuterol (Xopenex), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in albuterol inhalation powder or nebulizer solution. If you are using the powder for inhalation, also tell your doctor if you are allergic to milk proteins. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal); digoxin (Lanoxin); diuretics (‘water pills’); epinephrine (Epipen, Primatene Mist); other inhaled medications used to relax the airways, such as metaproterenol and levalbuterol (Xopenex); and cold medications. Also tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking the following medications or have stopped taking them in the past 2 weeks: antidepressants such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil) nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil); and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had an irregular heartbeat, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism (a condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone in the body), diabetes, or seizures.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while using albuterol, call your doctor.
- You should know that inhaling albuterol sometimes causes wheezing and shortness of breath immediately after inhaling it. If this happens, call your doctor immediately. Do not use albuterol inhalation again unless your doctor tells you to.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
If you have been told to use albuterol inhalation on a regular schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Albuterol inhalation may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- throat irritation
- muscle, bone, or back pain
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- chest pain
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- increased difficulty breathing
- difficulty swallowing
Albuterol inhalation can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Keep unused nebulizer solution vials in the foil pouch until you are ready to use them. Store nebulizer solution vials in the refrigerator or at room temperature away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store the inhaler at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not puncture the aerosol can and do not dispose of in an incinerator or fire.
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- chest pain
- fast, irregular or pounding heartbeat
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- dry mouth
- excessive tiredness
- lack of energy
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
What other information should I know?
Keep all your appointments with your doctor.
Don’t let anyone use your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
- Proair® HFA
- Proair® Respiclick
- Proventil® HFA
- Ventolin® HFA
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.