Albuterol – Uses, Dosage, Side Effects and Warnings

This post was most recently updated on November 15th, 2020

Understanding

Albuterol is a prescribed medication prescribed for patients who struggle with the related respiratory diseases like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and other lung diseases. It is used to avert and treat wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. These symptoms are known as bronchospasm. Sometimes, inhaled albuterol is used to treat or improve muscle paralysis in patients with paralysis attacks.

Albuterol is in a class of medicines called bronchodilators. It works by unwinding and opening air sections to the lungs to facilitate breathing. Although albuterol can help reduce or prevent asthma or emphysema symptoms, it cannot cure the diseases.

However, people should regard it as a rescue inhaler, not as a daily medicine, said Dr Len Horovitz, a lung specialist at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“It’s where you reach if you really need something,” Horovitz told Live Science. “It’s an I-need-it-now drug.”

Albuterol can be taken by mouth as a tablet or liquid, but the most common structure is as an oral inhaler. As an oral inhaler, it tends to be utilised to prevent breathing problems during training, in addition to other applications.

People who need albuterol can take two strokes every four to six hours, Horovitz said.

But “if you use albuterol more than twice a week, there is something wrong with your regimen and you should consult a doctor,” he said.

Albuterol can be taken as a nebuliser solution (a liquid that has been converted into an inhalable mist via a nebulizer) or as an aerosol that can be inhaled through the mouth via an inhaler.

Aerosol inhaler albuterol is supplied in canisters designed to give approximately 200 inhalations (the exact number of inhalations can be found on the container). After using the precise amount of inhalations, it is essential to remove the canister away even if it still contains some fluid or liquid and continues to spray.

If the stated number of puffs has been exceeded, the inhaler may not provide the correct amount of medicine. Some inhalers come with a counter that tracks the quantity of sprays utilised. At the point, when the number achieves 020, it is time to call the physician for a new filling. If there is no counter, patients must record inhalations themselves.

Dosage/How to use albuterol?

Albuterol side effects

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), patients must use the following steps to use an inhaler:

  • Remove the dust cover or, if the dust cover was not tightened, check the nozzle for dirt or other items.
  • If this is the first utilisation of the inhaler or if it has not been used for more than two weeks, it must be primed. Shake well and push the can down four times to release four sprays in the air away from the face.
  • Shake the inhaler well.
  • Exhale completely.
  • Place the mouthpiece in the mouth. Close the lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply through the mouthpiece. Press the container once to inject the medicine into the mouth.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, remove the inhaler and breathe out slowly.
  • Patients who are told to use two traits must wait a minute before taking another.

Those using a misting machine must follow the following steps:

  • Remove a vial of albuterol solution from the foil bag. Leave the rest of the flasks in the pouch.
  • The fluid or liquid in the vial must be clear and vapid/colourless. Do not use the jar if the liquid or vapour is cloudy/shady or discoloured.
  • Turn the top of the vial and squeeze all the fluid into the nebulizer reservoir.
  • Interface the nebulizer respiratory/reservoir to the mouthpiece or face mask.
  • Connect the nebulizer to the compressor.
  • Place the mouthpiece in the mouth or on the face mask. Sit upright, comfortably and switch on the compressor.
  • Breathe in quietly, deeply and evenly for five to fifteen minutes until the fog stops in the fog chamber.

Here is the video tutorial on how to properly use albuterol inhaler:

Patients must regularly clean the nebulizer or inhaler. If it is not cleaned, the medicine may not spray effectively.

Patients taking albuterol via tablets, prolonged-release tablets or liquid should follow their doctor’s instructions exactly. It is important to swallow the prolonged-release tablet whole and not to chew, crush or break the tablet.

Part of the prolonged-release tablet may appear in the patient’s stools while taking the drug. This is not a problem and not a cause for concern.

Brand names of oral tablet and liquid types of albuterol are Proventil, Ventolin and Volmax. Proventil and Ventolin should be stored in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture and direct light. Volmax must be stored in the refrigerator and never frozen.

Side effects of albuterol

Albuterol can cause side effects. The NIH calls the following less serious, although a doctor should be consulted if they do not disappear:

  • Wild shaking of a part of the body.
  • Severe nervousness.
  • Slight and sick headache.
  • Continuous nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Coughing.
  • Irritation in the throat.
  • Pain in muscle, bone or back pain.

Warnings

The following are more serious side effects. You need to seek medical advice immediately if :

  • You experience fast, pounding or irregular heartbeat.
  • You feel severe chest pain.
  • You feel rash in time to time.
  • You experience hives.
  • You feel itching.
  • Your face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs got swollen.
  • You feel difficulty in breathing increasingly.
  • You notice on difficulty on swallowing.
  • You feel hoarseness.
Albuterol steroids

What if patients use overdosed albuterol?

It is possible to give an overdose of albuterol. The following symptoms of an overdose are:

  • Coincidence.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fast, irregular or thumping heartbeat.
  • Nervousness.
  • Headache.
  • Wild shaking of a part of the body.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Excessive fatigue.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping.

Patients should elaborate to their doctor if they suffer from one of the following symptoms:

Patients should elaborate to their doctor if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. “The most damaging thing to an embryo or fetus is a lack of oxygen,” and women need to take it when they need it, Horovitz said.

The FDA arranges albuterol as a category C, meaning that it is unknown whether albuterol could harm a strange baby. According to the Mayo Clinic Foundation, it is also unknown about its effects during breastfeeding, so women should be careful before taking it.

Asthma myth and use of albuterol as a steroid:

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Written by Dr. Ganga Sapkota
Updated on November 15, 2020

A graduated medical physician with years of experience in the medical field. Working as a full-time physician in Puspanjali Hospital, Chitwan, Nepal.