- 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.
Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
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).
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
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
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)
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke,...
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and...
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...
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...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- 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
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
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 terbutaline Related ArticlesComplete List
albuterolalbuterol (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.
Asthma ComplexitiesThere 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 ChildrenAsthma 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.
Asthma MedicationsThere 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.
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: 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.
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,
- sore throat,
- muscle aches, and
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.
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
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
Treatment of COPD include smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
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.
Labor and DeliveryLabor signs can be very distinct for pregnant women. It is not possible to know what causes labor to start or when exactly it will start, but changes that indicate the beginning of labor include:
- passing of the mucus plug,
- breaking the bag of water, and
- effacement and dilation of the cervix.
salmeterolSalmeterol (Serevent) is a bronchodilator medication prescribed for the maintenance of asthma, and in preventing bronchospasm (spasm of the airways). Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy information, dosing, and patient information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.