- What is terbutaline, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for terbutaline?
- Is terbutaline available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for terbutaline?
- What are the side effects of terbutaline?
- What is the dosage for terbutaline?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with terbutaline?
- Is terbutaline safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about terbutaline?
What is terbutaline, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Terbutaline is a member of a class of drugs called beta adrenergic receptor agonists (stimulators) that is used for treating asthma and other diseases of the airways. Other drugs in the same class of drugs include albuterol (Proventil), metaproterenol (Alupent), pirbuterol (Maxair), and salmeterol (Serevent). 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 is a bronchodilator, a medication that 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. The FDA approved terbutaline in 1974.
What brand names are available for terbutaline?
Brethine, Bricanyl, Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.
What are the 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.
What is the dosage for terbutaline?
The recommended adult oral dose for treating bronchospasm due to asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis is 2.5-5 mg 3 to 4 times daily approximately 6 hours apart while awake. The maximum dosage is 15 mg/day.
The recommended subcutaneous (under skin) dose is 0.25 mg every 15-30 minutes for two doses. The maximum dose is 0.5 mg within 4 hours.
The recommended dose for the inhaler is 2 puffs every 4 to 6 hours.
The dose for preterm labor is 2.5 to 10 mcg/min by intravenous infusion initially, then increase amounts every 10 to 20 minutes. The typical effective dose is 17.5 to 30 mcg/min. Treatment should not exceed 72 hours.
Which drugs or supplements interact with terbutaline?
Combining terbutaline with thioridazine (Mellaril) may increase the occurrence of abnormal heart rhythms because both drugs can cause abnormal heart rhythms. The effects of terbutaline (a beta stimulant) are reversed by beta-blockers, for example, atenolol (Tenormin), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal), and metoprolol (Lopressor). Conversely, terbutaline may reduce the effect of beta-blockers. Therefore, terbutaline and beta-blockers should not be used together.
Is terbutaline safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Terbutaline reduces uterine contractions and may inhibit labor. There are no adequate studies of terbutaline in pregnant women.
What else should I know about terbutaline?
What preparations of terbutaline are available?
Tablets: 2.5 and 5 mg. Injection: 1 mg/ml. Inhaler: 0.2 mg/puff. Nubulizer: 1 mg/ml.
How should I keep terbutaline stored?
Tablets and injection should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
Terbutaline (Brethine, Bricanyl, and Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.) is a drug prescribed for the relief and prevention of bronchospasms by asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Terbutaline is also prescribed for the prevention of preterm labor. Side effects, warnings and precautions, drug interactions, and safety during pregnancy should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Related Disease Conditions
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...
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...
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...
There are many unusual symptoms of asthma, including sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, chronic cough, recurrent walking...
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children manifests with symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Rates of asthma in children are increasing. Asthma in...
Bronchitis (Acute) Contagoius Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Recovery Time
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison...
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and...
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators....
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Asthma and Allergy Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.