The People's Perspective on Medicine

Albuterol

Overview

Albuterol is one of the more commonly prescribed asthma inhalers in this country.

Although this medicine is also available in tablet form for oral use, the aerosol formulation is less likely to cause general side effects and is more frequently prescribed.

Inhaled albuterol is prescribed for the prevention as well as the treatment of asthma attacks.

It may also be used 15 minutes before vigorous activity to prevent exercise-induced asthma.

Side Effects and Interactions

One advantage of inhaled asthma medicine is that relatively little is absorbed into the body to cause unpleasant side effects.

However, inhaled albuterol can cause palpitations or rapid heart beat in some people.

Other possible side effects include nausea, tremor, nervousness, increased blood pressure, heartburn and dizziness.

There are rare reports of rash, itching, and allergic reactions that interfere with breathing.

In addition, albuterol can precipitate angina, insomnia, headache, unusual taste and irritation of the throat. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Albuterol can interact with several other medications. Do not use a similar kind of bronchodilating inhaler such as Berotec, Brethaire, Alupent, Metaprel or Tornalate simultaneously with albuterol.

Certain antidepressants may also be dangerous in combination with this asthma drug.

Thyroid medication and antihistamines do not mix well with albuterol, and beta blocker medications may counteract its effectiveness.

Check with your pharmacist and physician before using any other medication in combination with this inhaler.

Special Precautions

Although albuterol is very effective, care must be taken not to overuse it.

Because of a relatively short duration of action of 4 to 6 hours, people may tempted to use their inhaler too frequently. This could lead to complications, including increased breathing difficulties or heart problems.

Individuals with preexisting heart conditions, diabetes, seizures, prostate problems or an overactive thyroid gland should use albuterol only under close supervision, if at all.

Ventolin Inhaler needs to be kept at room temperature — that is, between 59 and 86 degrees. If the aerosol is used at a different temperature, it may not provide an accurate dose.

Taking the Medicine

Use of inhalers is not as easy as it may seem. Make sure your physician provides detailed instructions and demonstrates how to inhale the aerosol so that the medicine ends up in the lungs and not in the back of the throat.

Never try to use the inhaler when you have food, beverage, chewing gum or anything else in your mouth.

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
3.3- 3 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 3 comments
Comments
Add your comment

62 year old female with need to use albuterol now is confronted with hypothyroidism. You state Thyroid medication does not mix well with albuterol; any suggestions to drug compatible treatments?

Reporting that, as an 84 yr. old woman with consistent BP between 115-125 over 50 to 65 history and no heart or circulatory conditions, I became unduly frightened when my BP and HR increased substantially. Prior to this event I had been experiencing issues of balance, and then an episode of asthma (first in over 10years). Not knowing about the side effect of this medication did cause me a great deal of distress.

Reporting that as a 5-yr. diabetic (type II) on oral meds only, and A1c of 6.1, my blood glucose was under good control until lately, when I developed a respiratory problem that is being addressed with Albuterol aerolsol (Proventil). Immediately my bg rose to 280 & has not come down overnight, with my usual doses of meds, or with exercise.
There should be more awareness in the medical community of this side effect. My sugars have rarely spiked these readings, and NEVER over more than one test! They were slightly elevated on Tussinex & antibiotic treatment (160s), but not through the roof as they are now.
This could be dangerous, even life-threatening, in a person who has poor control or “brittle” diabetes. The literature enclosed with the inhaler only mentions physician should be made aware if diabetes develops over time, not a word of warning to diabetics prescribed with the drug.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^