GENERIC NAME: albuterol and ipratropium inhaler
BRAND NAME: Combivent Respimat
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Combivent
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Albuterol/ipratropium is a combination product consisting of two bronchodilators, albuterol (Proventil; Ventolin) and ipratropium (Atrovent) that is used in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (bronchitis and emphysema) when there is evidence of spasm (narrowing) of the airways (bronchi). Bronchodilators dilate or enlarge the airways by relaxing the muscles surrounding the airways. Albuterol and ipratropium work by different mechanisms, but both cause the muscles of the airways to relax. Albuterol is a bronchodilator of the beta-2 agonist type. Beta-2 agonists are medications that stimulate beta-2 receptors on the smooth muscle cells that line the airways, causing these muscle cells to relax and thereby opening airways. Ipratropium blocks the effect of acetylcholine in airways and nasal passages. Acetylcholine is a chemical that nerves use to communicate with muscle cells. In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cholinergic nerves going to the lungs cause narrowing of airways by stimulating muscles surrounding airways to contract. The "anti-cholinergic" effect of ipratropium blocks the effect of cholinergic nerves, causing the muscles to relax and airways to dilate. The FDA approved albuterol/ipratropium in October 1996.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Albuterol/ipratropium is used in the treatment of bronchospasm or narrowing of the airways caused by emphysema or bronchitis in patients who require a second bronchodilator.
SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of albuterol/ipratropium combination products are due to the component drugs. Side effects of albuterol include nervousness, tremor, headache, palpitations, fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and heartburn. Throat irritation and nosebleeds also can occur. Worsening of diabetes and lowering of potassium also have been reported.
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