Albuterol, Inhaled

Albuterol is an inhaled bronchodilator frequently prescribed for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Albuterol provides quick-relief of respiratory symptoms. It usually takes effect with minutes after inhalation and lasts for up to 4-6 hours. It is categorized as a "short-acting beta-agonist"(SABA).

Because albuterol acts quickly, it may be recommended as a "rescue medication" when other asthma medications have failed to keep asthma symptoms under control. It may be used as part of an asthma management plan established with your doctor to provide relief of worsening asthma symptoms.

Some commonly prescribed brands of albuterol include ProAir® HFA, Proventil®, and Ventolin®. Maxair® (pirbuterol) and Xopenex® (levalbuterol) are other brands of asthma medication with an active ingredient closely related to albuterol.

How does Albuterol work?

Albuterol opens the air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe for those with symptoms of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

How is Albuterol taken?

Take albuterol exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Albuterol is inhaled into the lungs using a metered dose inhaler (MDI) or nebulizer.

Taking albuterol via an inhaler (MDI):

  1. Be sure that the canister is fully and firmly inserted in the mouthpiece.
  2. Remove the protective cap from the end of the mouthpiece. (If the cap was not in place, check the mouthpiece for dirt or other objects that may obstruct the flow of medicine)
  3. Shake the inhaler well.
  4. Prime the inhaler if necessary. If you are using the inhaler for the first time, have not used the inhaler in more than 14 days, or have dropped the inhaler, you will need to prime it. 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.
  5. Hold the canister with the canister upright and the mouthpiece on the bottom.
  6. Prepare to inhale albuterol by exhaling (breathing out) as completely as possible.
  7. Place the open end of the mouthpiece into your mouth.
  8. Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  9. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the mouthpiece. At the same time, press down once on the canister to release the medication.
  10. Hold your breath for 10 seconds then breathe out slowly .
  11. If you were told to use 2 puffs, wait 1 minute between puffs.
  12. Replace the protective cap on the inhaler.

If a metered dose inhaler is used, keep track of the number of inhalations. When using the inhaler, discard the canister after using the labeled number of inhalations on the package, even if it feels as though there is medication left in the canister. Follow the instructions for cleaning the mouthpiece. Do not wash the metal canister or put any part of it in water.

Taking albuterol via a nebulizer:

  1. Remove one vial of albuterol solution from the foil pouch. Leave the rest of the vials in the pouch until you are ready to use them.
  2. 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.
  3. Twist off the top of the vial and squeeze all of the liquid into the nebulizer reservoir. If you are using your nebulizer to inhale other medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can place the other medications in the reservoir along with albuterol.
  4. Connect the nebulizer reservoir to the mouthpiece or face mask.
  5. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth or put on the face mask. Sit in an upright, comfortable position and turn on the compressor.
  6. Breathe in calmly, deeply, and evenly for about 5-15 minutes until mist stops forming in the nebulizer chamber.
  7. Clean your inhaler or nebulizer regularly.
  8. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about cleaning your inhaler or nebulizer. (If you do not clean your inhaler properly, the inhaler may become blocked and may not spray medication. If this happens, follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning the inhaler and removing the blockage.)

What are the possible side effects from albuterol?

Read the medication guide that you receive with the medication for a complete list of possible side effects. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about possible side effects that you may be experiencing.

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Last updated: 6/30/2020