Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is used to treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by breathing problems such as asthma. It is a quick-relief medication. Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs known as bronchodilators. It works in the airways by opening breathing passages and relaxing muscles. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. This medication is used with a special machine called a nebulizer that changes the solution to a fine mist that you inhale. Learn all instructions for the use of this medication and the nebulizer. If a child is using this medication, a parent or other responsible adult should supervise the child. If you have any questions, consult your doctor, pharmacist, or respiratory therapist.
This product should be clear and colorless to light yellow. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Use the dropper supplied by the manufacturer to carefully measure the prescribed amount of medication and place in the nebulizer with sterile saline as directed. If you are using the single dose package, empty the contents of the package in the nebulizer and add sterile saline as directed. Gently swirl the nebulizer to mix the solution.
Do not rinse the dropper. Replace the dropper and tightly close the bottle after each use. To avoid contamination, do not touch the dropper tip or let it touch any other surface. Discard any unused mixed solution. Do not save for future use.
Using a mouthpiece or face mask with the nebulizer, inhale the prescribed dose of medication into your lungs as directed by your doctor, usually 3 or 4 times daily as needed. Each treatment usually takes about 5 to 15 minutes. Use this medication only through a nebulizer. Do not swallow or inject the solution. Do not mix with other medicines in your nebulizer. To prevent infections, clean the nebulizer and mouthpiece/face mask according to the manufacturer's directions.
Dosage is based on your medical condition, age, weight, and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use it more frequently than prescribed without your doctor's approval.
Learn which of your inhalers/medications 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/medication more often (more than 2 days a week), or if your quick-relief inhaler/medication 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.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she 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: fast/pounding heartbeat.
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: rash, 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 -
Before using albuterol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have had a serious reaction to similar drugs (such as levalbuterol, metaproterenol, terbutaline); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, 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, heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes, seizure.
This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
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.
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 overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, severe shaking (tremors), seizures.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as a lung/breathing test, blood pressure) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
Avoid allergens/irritants such as smoke, pollen, pet dander, dust, or molds that may worsen breathing problems.
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).
Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you should have an annual flu shot.
If you are using this medication on a prescribed schedule 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 and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Different brands of this medication have different storage needs. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator as directed before opening. Do not freeze. This medication may need to be refrigerated after opening. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist.
Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
MEDICAL ALERT: 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).
Information last revised April 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.Go to medicine cabinet