Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is used to prevent and treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is also used to prevent asthma brought on by exercise. It is a quick-relief medication. Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs known as bronchodilators. It works by relaxing the muscles around the airways so that they open up and you can breathe more easily. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school.
How To Use
Read the Patient Information Leaflet and Instructions for Use provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. Follow the illustrated directions for the proper use of this medication. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Some brands of this inhaler have a built-in sensor that can store data on its use. This information can be used with a smartphone application (app). Read the manufacturer's information on how to set up and use the app. You do not have to use the app in order for the inhaler to work. You can review the data and share it with your health care provider if you want to.
Inhale this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually every 4 to 6 hours as needed. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often than prescribed without your doctor's approval. Using too much of this medication will increase your risk of serious (possibly fatal) side effects.
If you are using this medication to prevent asthma brought on by exercise, use it 15 to 30 minutes before exercise.
Do not use a spacer with this inhaler and do not open the cap unless you are ready to take a dose.
Before use, hold the inhaler upright and open the cap. You should hear a click, which means the inhaler is ready for use. Place the mouthpiece near your mouth and breathe out as far as is comfortable. Do not breathe into the inhaler device. Then put the mouthpiece in your mouth, close your lips around it, and breathe in steadily and deeply. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds, or for as long as is comfortable. Close the cap after each use.
Clean the outside of the mouthpiece with a dry tissue or cloth as needed. Do not use water or any other liquid for cleaning. If liquid gets into the inhaler, it may not work properly. Replace the inhaler if it has been washed or placed in water.
If a child is using this medication, a parent or other responsible adult may need to help the child use the inhaler properly.
If you are using other inhalers at the same time, wait at least 1 minute between the use of each medication.
Always have this quick-relief inhaler with you. Keep track of the number of inhalations used from each device. Discard the device after you have used the number of inhalations marked on the manufacturer's package.
Learn which of your inhalers you should use every day (controller drugs) and which you should use if your breathing suddenly worsens (quick-relief drugs). Ask your doctor ahead of time what you should do if you have new or worsening cough or shortness of breath, wheezing, increased sputum, worsening peak flow meter readings, waking up at night with trouble breathing, if you use your quick-relief inhaler more often (more than 2 days a week), or if your quick-relief inhaler does not seem to be working well. Learn when you can treat sudden breathing problems by yourself and when you must get medical help right away.
Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen.
Nervousness, dizziness, shaking (tremor), headache, nausea, mouth/throat dryness or irritation, or unusual taste may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
This medication may raise your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure regularly and tell your doctor if the results are high.
Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:
- chest pain
- irregular heartbeat
- rapid breathing
Rarely, this medication has caused severe (rarely fatal), sudden worsening of breathing problems/asthma (paradoxical bronchospasm). If you experience sudden wheezing, get medical help right away.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using albuterol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to similar drugs (such as levalbuterol, metaproterenol, salmeterol); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as lactose, milk proteins), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
- heart problems (such as irregular heartbeat, angina, previous heart attack)
- high blood pressure
This drug may make you dizzy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Albuterol is very similar to levalbuterol. Do not use medications containing levalbuterol while using albuterol.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: chest pain, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, seizures.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as blood pressure, heart rate, EKG) may be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
Avoid substances that can worsen breathing problems by causing irritation or allergic reaction, such as smoke, pollen, pet dander, dust, and mold.
Learn to use a peak flow meter, use it daily, and promptly report worsening breathing problems (such as readings in the yellow/red range, increased use of quick-relief inhalers).
Because the flu virus can worsen breathing problems, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should have a flu shot every year.
If you are using albuterol regularly and miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Use your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
If you have questions about missing a dose or you don't have more medication, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Keep the inhaler in the foil pouch until ready for use. Once removed from the pouch, throw away the inhaler after 13 months even if there is still medication left.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).