- What is albuterol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for albuterol?
- Is albuterol available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for albuterol?
- What are the uses for albuterol?
- What are the side effects of albuterol?
- What is the dosage for albuterol?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with albuterol?
- Is albuterol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about albuterol?
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?
What are the side effects of albuterol?
Common side effects include:
- Migraine headaches
- Non-migraine headaches
- stomach upset
- flu-like symptoms
- cold symptoms
- ear infections (otitis media)
Other side effects include:
- allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching)
- increased sputum
- shortness of breath
Possible serious side effects include:
Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
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.
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.
albuterol (Accuneb, Ventolin and Proventil have been discontinued) is a drug used for prevention and relief of bronchospasm in individuals with asthma, exercise induced asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Drug interactions include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and beta blockers. Side effects include tremor, headache, palpitations, and more. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Asthma Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, which can be managed with proper treatment. Triggered by two main...
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Quiz
COPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called...
Asthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
What is asthma? Learn about asthma, a chronic inflammation disorder of the bronchiole tubes (airways). Discover information about...
What is Asthma? Asthma Myths Debunked
There is currently no cure for asthma, and no specific, single cause for asthma has been identified. Take this quiz on asthma...
Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention
Look at the anatomy of an asthma attack. See these warning signs and symptoms to avoid an asthma emergency such as a persistent...
10 Worst Asthma Cities in the U. S. in Pictures
Do you live in one of the 10 worst cites for asthma? There is no such thing as an asthma-free city, but some are more difficult...
Related Disease Conditions
Bronchitis (Acute) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Remedies, and Cures
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison...
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Life Expectancy
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or...
Neutropenia (Causes, Symptoms, Ranges, Treatment)
Neutropenia is a marked decrease in the number of neutrophils, neutrophils being a type of white blood cell (specifically a form...
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and...
Chronic Bronchitis (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Remedies)
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a...
Asthma: Over the Counter Treatment
Patients who have infrequent, mild bouts of asthma attacks may use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat their asthma...
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...
COPD vs. Emphysema (Differences Similarities)
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of...
Bronchiectasis (Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Life Expectancy)
Bronchiectasis has three types, 1) cylindrical bronchiectasis, 2) saccular or varicose bronchiectasis, and 3) cystic...
Adult-onset asthma is asthma that is diagnosed in people over 20 years of age. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of...
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators....
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children manifests with symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Rates of asthma in children are increasing. Asthma in...
There are many unusual symptoms of asthma, including sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, chronic cough, recurrent walking...
Occupational asthma is a type of asthma caused by exposure to a substance in the workplace. Symptoms and signs include wheezing,...
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds
If you have a COPD such as emphysema, avoiding chronic bronchitis and colds is important to avoid a more severe respiratory...
Exercise-induced asthma is asthma triggered by vigorous exercise. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Asthma: Managing Exercise-Induced Asthma
- Asthma Control: Know Your Score
- Asthma, Controlling Your
- Asthma Update -- Paul Enright, MD. -- 11/25/02
- Asthma and Allergies and Your Child
- Asthma FAQs
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
- Best Exercises for Asthma: Yoga, Swimming, Biking, and Walking
- Exercise Preventing Asthma?
- Prescriptions: Complying with the Doctor's Orders
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
Medications & Supplements
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Bronchodilators (Drug Class)
- Drug Interactions
- terbutaline, Brethine, Bricanyl, and Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.
- albuterol and ipratropium inhaler, Combivent, Combivent Respimat
- salmeterol, Serevent
- levalbuterol pre-mixed solution - inhalation, Xopenex
Prevention & Wellness
- Nearly 600,000 Asthma Inhalers Recalled
- There's Fun and Fitness in the Pool for Asthmatic Kids
- Childhood Asthma May Encourage Obesity, Study Suggests
- Severe Asthma in Childhood Linked to COPD Risk Later
- Study Ties Autism Risk to Prenatal Exposure to Asthma Drugs
- Prescription Drug Use on the Rise in U.S.
- Are We Taking Some Medicines for Too Long?
- Environmental Concerns Led to Jump in Cost of Asthma Inhalers: Study
- The 10 Most-Prescribed and Top-Selling Medications
- Enterovirus D68: What Parents Need to Know
- Last Two Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
- Mild Asthma Patients May Do OK With Less Steroids
- Stopping Controversial Asthma Drugs Could Have Downside: Study
- London Smog May Be Tough on Olympians
- Asthma Meds May Be Linked to Irregular Heartbeat
- High Out-of-Pocket Costs for Kids' Asthma Drugs Could Pose Dangers
- Why Don't Some People With Asthma Respond to Medication?
- Drug for Acute Respiratory Distress May Do More Harm Than Good: Study
- FDA to Primatene Users: Get Asthma Prescription Now
- Asthma Study Shows Placebo Can Help Symptoms
- Alternative Way to Treat Childhood Asthma?
- Recall of Albuterol Used in Nebulizers
Daily Health News
Asthma and Allergy Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top albuterol Related Articles
Adult-Onset AsthmaAdult-onset asthma is asthma that is diagnosed in people over 20 years of age. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications or bronchodilators.
Asthma Attack SlidesLook at the anatomy of an asthma attack. See these warning signs and symptoms to avoid an asthma emergency such as a persistent cough, changes in breathing, cyanosis and more.
Asthma Myths SlideshowThere is currently no cure for asthma, and no specific, single cause for asthma has been identified. Take this quiz on asthma myths to test your asthma IQ and take an active role in your own health.
Asthma OverviewAsthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Causes of asthma include genetics, environmental factors, personal history of allergies, and other factors. Asthma is diagnosed by a physician based on a patient's family history and results from lung function tests and other exams. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs) are used in the treatment of asthma. Generally, the prognosis for a patient with asthma is good. Exposure to allergens found on farms may protect against asthma symptoms.
Asthma SlideshowWhat is asthma? Learn about asthma, a chronic inflammation disorder of the bronchiole tubes (airways). Discover information about an asthma attack, asthma symptoms, prevention and treatments such as asthma medications and inhalers.
Take the Asthma QuizAsthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, which can be managed with proper treatment. Triggered by two main causes, asthma symptoms can be brought on by environmental factors and surprising allergens.
Asthma: Over The Counter TreatmentPatients who have infrequent, mild bouts of asthma attacks may use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat their asthma symptoms. OTC asthma medicines are limited to epinephrine and ephedrine. These OTC drugs are best used with the guidance of a physician, as there may be side effects and the drugs may not be very effective.
Bronchiectasis (Acquired, Congenital)Bronchiectasis has three types, 1) cylindrical bronchiectasis, 2) saccular or varicose bronchiectasis, and 3) cystic bronchiectasis.
Causes of bronchiectasis includeinfection, environmental exposure, drug or alcohol abuse, and alpha-1 antitrypsin (congenital).
Symptoms of bronchiectasis include shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic cough, bloody sputum, and wheezing. Treatment for bronchiectasis include antibiotics and possibly surgery.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison with chronic bronchitis, which lasts for months to years. Causes of acute bronchitis include viruses and bacteria, which means it can be contagious. Acute bronchitis caused by environmental factors such as pollution or cigarette smoke is not contagious. Common symptoms for acute bronchitis include nasal congestion, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Acute bronchitis in children also my include runny nose, fever, and chest pain. Treatment for acute bronchitis are OTC pain relievers, cough suppressants (although not recommended in children), and rest. Infrequently antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a row. Causes of chronic bronchitis include cigarette smoking, inhaled irritants, and underlying disease processes (such as asthma, or congestive heart failure). Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. Complications of chronic bronchitis include COPD and emphysema.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough. Treatment of COPD include GOLD guidelines, smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
Take the COPD QuizCOPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD vs. Emphysema Differences Similarities
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US. When a person first develops COPD, he or she may not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and become more severe and include:
- Difficulty breathing with exertion or physical activity, which in the advanced stages, eventually leads to breathlessness all of the time.
- Chronic cough
- Excessive phlegm production
- Upper respiratory infections like the flu or common cold.
- A barrel-shaped chest
- A bluish tint to the skin from lack of oxygen
- Chest tightness
- varenicline (Chantix) to quit smoking
- The antidepressant and bupropion (Zyban) to reduce nicotine withdrawals
- Drugs that are prescribed for another condition (off label), for example, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and clonidine (Catapres)
- Short-term bronchodilators, for example, albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- Long-term bronchodilators, for example, salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil)
- Anticholinergic bronchodilators, for example, ipratropium (Atrovent) and tiotropium (Spiriva)
- Combined drugs using steroids and long acting bronchodilators
- Roflumilast (Daxas, Daliresp)
You can prevent getting COPD or emphysema if you:
- Quit smoking and making healthy lifestyle changes
- Avoid secondhand smoke
- Avoid home and workplace air pollutants
- Prevent upper respiratory tract infections
There is a genetic cause of COPD called alpha-1 antitrypsin.
CDC. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)." Updated: Sep 16, 2016.
NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "COPD National Action Plan." Updated: May 15, 2017.
NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is COPD?" Updated: Apr 28, 2017.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)." Updated: Oct 31, 2014.
Victoria State Government. "Emphysema." Updated: Nov 2014.
Sharafkhaneh, A. et al. Emphysema. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2008 May 1; 5(4): 475–477. doi: 10.1513/pats.200708-126ET
Boka, K. "Emphysema." Medscape. Updated: Aug 31. 2016.
Kleinschmidt, P. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Emphysema in Emergency Medicine." Medscape. Updated: Jun 08, 2017.
Emphysema (Lung Condition)Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and chronic bronchitis. Causes of emphysema include chronic cigarette smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Symptoms of emphysema include chronic cough, chest discomfort, breathlessness, and wheezing. Treatments include medication and lifestyle changes.
Neutropenia is a marked decrease in the number of neutrophils, neutrophils being a type of white blood cell (specifically a form of granulocyte) filled with neutrally-staining granules, tiny sacs of enzymes that help the cell to kill and digest microorganisms it has engulfed by phagocytosis.
Signs and symptoms of neutropenia include gum pain and swelling, skin abscesses, recurrent ear and sinus infections, sore mouth, low-grad fever, pneumonia-like symptoms, and pain and irritation around the rectal area.
Neutropenia has numerous causes, for example, infections (HIV, TB, mono); medications (chemotherapy); vitamin deficiencies (anemia); bone marrow diseases (leukemias), radiation therapy, autoimmune destruction of neutrophils, and hypersplenism.
Treatment of neutropenia depends upon the cause and the health of the patient.
Worst Asthma CitiesDo you live in one of the 10 worst cites for asthma? There is no such thing as an asthma-free city, but some are more difficult than others for people with asthma to live in, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.