albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)

What is albuterol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Albuterol sulphate dilates the airways of the lung and is used for treating asthma and other conditions of the lung. Asthma is a breathing problem due to narrowing of the airways (bronchial tubes) that allow air to move in and out of the lungs. These airways can be narrowed due to the accumulation of mucus, spasm of the muscles that surround these airways (bronchospasm), or swelling of the lining of the airways. Airway narrowing leads to shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and congestion. Albuterol sulphate dilates bronchial airways by relaxing the muscles that surround the airways. Albuterol also can be helpful in patients with emphysema and chronic bronchitis when symptoms are partially related to spasm of the airways’ muscles.
  • The FDA approved albuterol sulphate solution in January 1987.

What are the uses for albuterol?

  • Albuterol sulphate inhalation solution is used for the treatment of bronchospasm in patients 2 to 12 years of age with asthma (reversible obstructive airway disease).

What brand names are available for albuterol?

Ventolin, Proventil, Accuneb (discontinued)

Is albuterol available as a generic drug?

Yes

Do I need a prescription for albuterol?

Yes

What are the side effects of albuterol?

Common side effects include:

Other side effects include:

Possible serious side effects include:

What is the dosage for albuterol?

  • A jet nebulizer connected to an air compressor equipped with a mouthpiece or face mask is used to administer albuterol sulphate solution.
  • The recommended starting dose for patients 2 to 12 years of age is 0.63, 1.25, or 2.5 mg given by nebulization 3 or 4 times daily, as needed. More frequent administration is not recommended.
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age with more severe asthma may achieve a better initial response with the 1.25 or 2.5 mg dose.
  • The entire contents of one vial should be placed in the nebulizer and the flow rate should be adjusted to deliver albuterol sulphate over 5 to 15 minutes.

Which drugs or supplements interact with albuterol?

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, for example, amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), for example, tranylcypromine, should not be combined with albuterol sulfate because of their additive effects on the vascular system (increased blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). A period of two weeks should elapse between treatment with albuterol sulphate and tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
  • Use of albuterol sulphate with other stimulant medications is discouraged because of their combined effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and the potential for causing chest pain in patients with underlying coronary heart disease.
  • Beta-blockers, for example, propranolol (Inderal, Inderal LA), block the effect of albuterol sulphate and may induce bronchospasm in asthmatics.
  • Albuterol sulphate may cause hypokalemia (low potassium). Therefore, combining albuterol sulphate with loop diuretics, for example, furosemide (Lasix) may increase the likelihood of hypokalemia.

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Is albuterol safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Albuterol sulphate inhalation solution is used for treating children.
  • There are no adequate studies of albuterol sulphate use during pregnancy. Some reports indicate that albuterol sulphate may cause congenital defects when used during pregnancy.
  • It’s not known whether albuterol sulphate is excreted in breast milk.

What else should I know about albuterol?

What preparations of albuterol are available?
  • Inhalation Solution: 0.63, 1.25, and 2.5 mg/3 ml; 2.5 mg/0.5 ml.
How should I keep albuterol stored?
  • Albuterol sulphate should be stored between 2 C and 25 C (36 F and 77 F) and protected from light and excessive heat.

Medically Reviewed on 3/26/2019

References

Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine

REFERENCE:

FDA Prescribing Information

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