Does terbutaline cause side effects?
Asthma is a breathing problem caused by narrowing of air passages (bronchial tubes) through which air moves in and out of the lungs. These airways can be narrowed due to the accumulation of mucus, spasm of the muscles that surround them (bronchospasm), or swelling of their linings due to the accumulation of fluid. Airway narrowing leads to shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough.
Terbutaline dilates (expands) air passages in the lungs. It attaches to beta adrenergic receptors on muscles surrounding the air passages, causing the muscles to relax and dilate the air passages. Wider air passages allow more air to flow in and out of the lungs. Increased airflow reduces shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough.
Terbutaline also is used for delaying premature labor by relaxing the muscles of the uterus that are responsible for expelling the fetus at the time of delivery.
Common side effects of terbutaline include:
- heart palpitations,
- fast heart rate, and
- elevated blood pressure.
Serious side effects of terbutaline include:
Low blood potassium (hypokalemia) and high blood glucose have been associated with terbutaline.
The effects of terbutaline are reversed by beta-blockers and terbutaline may reduce the effect of beta-blockers. Terbutaline reduces uterine contractions and may inhibit labor. There are no adequate studies of terbutaline in pregnant women.
What are the important side effects of terbutaline?
Terbutaline may cause side effects such as:
- heart palpitations,
- fast heart rate, and
- elevated blood pressure.
Vomiting, anxiety, restlessness, lethargy, excessive sweating, chest pain, and muscle cramping also may occur. Low blood potassium (hypokalemia) and high blood glucose have been associated with terbutaline.
Terbutaline side effects list for healthcare professionals
Adverse reactions observed with terbutaline are similar to those commonly seen with other sympathomimetic agents. All these reactions are transient in nature and usually do not require treatment.
The following table compares adverse reactions seen in patients treated with terbutaline sulfate injection (0.25 mg and 0.5 mg), with those seen in patients treated with epinephrine injection (0.25 mg and 0.5 mg), during eight double-blind crossover studies involving a total of 214 patients.
Incidence (%) of Adverse Reactions
|Terbutaline (%)||Epinephrine (%)|
|0.25 mg||0.5 mg||0.25 mg||0.5 mg|
|Central Nervous System|
|Pain at injection site||2.6||0.5||2.6||1.6|
|Note: Some patients received more than one dosage strength of terbutaline sulfate and epinephrine. In addition, there were reports of anxiety, muscle cramps, and dry mouth ( < 0.5%). There have been rare reports of elevations in liver enzymes and of hypersensitivity vasculitis with terbutaline administration.|
What drugs interact with terbutaline?
The concomitant use of terbutaline with other sympathomimetic agents is not recommended, since the combined effect on the cardiovascular system may be deleterious to the patient.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors or Tricyclic Antidepressants
Terbutaline should be administered with extreme caution to patients being treated with monoamine oxidase inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants, or within 2 weeks of discontinuation of such agents, since the action of terbutaline on the vascular system may be potentiated.
Beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agents not only block the pulmonary effect of beta-agonists, such as terbutaline, but may produce severe bronchospasm in asthmatic patients. Therefore, patients with asthma should not normally be treated with beta-blockers. However, under certain circumstances, e.g., as prophylaxis after myocardial infarction, there may be no acceptable alternatives to the use of beta-adrenergic blocking agents in patients with asthma. In this setting, cardioselective beta-blockers could be considered, although they should be administered with caution.
The ECG changes and/or hypokalemia that may result from the administration of nonpotassium-sparing diuretics (such as loop or thiazide diuretics) can be acutely worsened by beta-agonists, especially when the recommended dose of the beta-agonist is exceeded. Although the clinical significance of these effects is not known, caution is advised in the coadministration of beta-agonists with nonpotassium-sparing diuretics.
Terbutaline is a type of bronchodilator called a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist used to treat asthma and other diseases of the airways. Common side effects of terbutaline include tremor, nausea, nervousness, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, heartburn, heart palpitations, fast heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. Terbutaline reduces uterine contractions and may inhibit labor. There are no adequate studies of terbutaline in pregnant women. Terbutaline is found in small amounts in the breast milk of nursing women. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers terbutaline to be compatible with breastfeeding.
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Related Disease Conditions
Asthma 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: Over the Counter Treatment
Patients 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.
There are many unusual symptoms of asthma, including sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, chronic cough, recurrent walking pneumonia, and rapid breathing. These symptoms may vary from individual to individual. These asthma complexities make it difficult to accurately diagnose and treat asthma.
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children manifests with symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Rates of asthma in children are increasing. Asthma in children is usually diagnosed based on the description of symptoms. Lung function tests may also be used. A variety of medications are used for the treatment of childhood asthma.
Adult-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.
Exercise-induced asthma is asthma triggered by vigorous exercise. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and fatigue while exercising. Preventing exercise-induced asthma attacks involves using inhaled medicines before exercising, performing warm-up exercises and cooling down afterward, avoiding exercising outdoors when pollen counts are high, restricting exercise when you have a viral infection, and wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when exercising in cold weather.
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators. Asthma medicines may be inhaled using a metered-dose inhaler or nebulizer or they may be taken orally. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease shouldn't take OTC asthma drugs like Primatene Mist and Bronkaid.
Occupational asthma is a type of asthma caused by exposure to a substance in the workplace. Symptoms and signs include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The usual treatment for occupational asthma involves removal from exposure and the use of bronchodilators and inhaled anti-inflammatory medicines.
COPD vs. Asthma (Differences and Similarities)
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma both have common symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. COPD is caused by tobacco smoking, while asthma is caused by your inherited genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. Risk factors for asthma are obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke (even secondhand smoke), and personal history of hay fever. There is no cure for either disease, but symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with asthma has a better prognosis and life expectancy than someone with COPD.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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Medications & Supplements
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.
Professional side effects and drug interactions sections courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.