Albuterol Inhaler

Don't let asthma stop you with an Albuterol inhaler

Albuterol inhalers are used to treat asthma. They do not cure asthma, but they are used to treat the symptoms of an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be sudden, unpredictable and dangerous. If you have asthma it is important to have a reliever inhaler, such as Albuterol, on hand at all times.

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Information

Written by Dr Kim Langdon, MD

Information last reviewed 07/15/19

About

What is Albuterol?

Albuterol inhalers are used to resolve asthma symptoms. Albuterol is a type of inhaler known as reliever inhaler, that is used to counteract an asthma attack. If you are experiencing asthmatic symptoms, you should take a reliever inhaler, such as Albuterol, as soon as possible. This will help to relax your airways and to resolve your symptoms.

What type of inhaler is Albuterol?

Albuterol inhalers are a type of reliever inhaler. Unlike steroid (preventer) inhalers, reliever inhalers are used to resolve the symptoms of an asthma attack, not to prevent the symptoms from occurring in the first place.

Albuterol inhalers contain a medicine known as a beta 2-agonist. This means that it works by relaxing the smooth muscle of the airways when you inhale it.

Albuterol inhalers, are metered-dose inhalers (MDIs). This means that when you use the inhaler, it delivers a specific dose of the medicine in an aerosolized form. MDIs are easy to use and can be used with spacers to help you inhale the medicine slowly

Ingredients

Active ingredients

The active ingredient in Albuterol is albuterol sulfate or salbutamol sulfate. This is the same active ingredient found in other inhalers such as Ventolin and Salamol.

Inactive ingredients

Albuterol sulfate is a beta-2-agonist, which relaxes the airways’ smooth muscle to relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack.

Dosage

Albuterol Dosage

The standard dose of Albuterol inhalation is two inhalations every 4 to 6 hours. To avoid an exercise-induced asthma attack, use 2 puffs 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise. Albuterol is effective for around 4 to 6 hours.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, skip a missed dose if it’s time for your next dose. It is not advisable to take other medications to compensate for a missed dose.

What should I do if I have taken too much?

If you have taken too much of Albuterol, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 because an overdose of Albuterol could be fatal.   Symptoms of an overdose include tremors, shaking, dry mouth, irregular or fast heartbeat, chest pain, feeling nauseous or ill, feeling light-headed or like fainting or experiencing seizures.

How to prime an Albuterol Inhaler

If you are using your inhaler for the first time or if you have not used your inhaler for a while, you should prime your inhaler before you use it. Follow these steps to prime your inhaler:  

  • Remove the cap from the mouthpiece
  • Shake the inhaler thoroughly
  • Spray away from your face once
  • Repeat three times.
  • Following this, you can use your inhaler as normal.

    How to use an Albuterol Inhaler

    To use your Albuterol inhaler, follow these instructions:

  • Take off the cap from the mouthpiece
  • Shake the inhaler well
  • Hold the inhaler with the mouthpiece at the bottom
  • Breathe out and empty your lungs as much as possible, then immediately put the mouthpiece inside your mouth and create a seal around it with your lips.
  • Push the top of the inhaler all the way down while you breathe in slowly through your mouth
  • After you have felt the spray come out, remove your finger from the canister and you can take the inhaler out of your mouth, but you should try to keep your mouth closed if possible
  • Hold your breath for a minimum of 10 seconds if you can
  • Breathe out fully. Try to breathe out as slowly as you can and for as long as possible.
  • Swap the cap on the mouthpiece
  • If you have been instructed to use more than one spray when you use your inhaler, wait 1 minute, then repeat steps 3-9.
  • Tips for your Albuterol inhaler

    • Before use, always make sure that the canister sits securely inside the plastic device (actuator).
    • Always keep the cap over the mouthpiece when not in use.
    • Store the inhaler with the mouthpiece downwards.
    • Clean your inhaler once a week.

    How to clean your Albuterol Inhaler

    To clean your inhaler, follow the instructions below:

  • Remove the canister from the actuator (plastic part).
  • Hold the actuator beneath warm water, running from the faucet (tap) for at least 30 seconds.
  • Use warm water to clean the mouthpiece for at least 30 seconds.
  • Check on the inside to see if there is any remaining build-up of medicine inside (rinse again if there is)
  • Shake off any excess water and let it air-dry overnight.
  • When it is completely dry, replace the canister in the actuator, shake thoroughly and spray into the air once, away from your face.
  • There’s a risk of fungi or bacteria to grow inside the inhaler if it’s not kept clean. Always ensure you clean the device properly to avoid the risk of infections such as oral thrush (yeast infection).

    Side Effects

    Side Effects

    Common Albuterol side effects may include:

    • Shakiness
    • Nervousness,
    • Trouble sleeping;
    • Sore throat
    • Sinus pain,
    • Stuffy or runny nose;
    • Back pain,
    • Body aches;
    • Headache,
    • Dizziness;
    • Nausea or vomiting

    Seek immediate medical attention if you have:

    • wheezing, a choking sensation, other breathing problems
    • chest pain, fast heart rate, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
    • pain or burning when you urinate;
    • increased thirst or increased urination,
    • hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss; or
    • Low potassium sign such as, constipation, leg cramps, extreme thirst, increased urination, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness or feeling limp.
    • Interactions with other drugs

    Contraindications

    Albuterol is not recommended for children under the age of 4, but it is suitable for older children. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there should not be any interactions with Albuterol, but you should consult the prescribing physician, who can take into account all your health needs.

    Drug interactions

    Albuterol may interaction with a number of other drugs. It is important that you let the prescribing physician know of all or any other medicines you are taking. You should also let them know if you are using any traditional or alternative medicines, as some of these may interfere with the action of the drug.

    Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any that you stop or start such as:

    • Any other inhaled medications or bronchodilators
    • Digoxin
    • Water pill
    • antidepressant s- amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine, doxepin, nortriptyline, and others
    • Beta blockers such as labetalol, atenolol, carvedilol, metoprolol, propranolol; used for high blood pressure generally
    • MAO inhibitors such as isocarboxazid, rasagiline, linezolid, phenelzine,  selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others or methylene blue injection—this is done under doctor supervision

    Q&A

    Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.

    1. Zucker, M. Asthma phenotype, genotype may guide future therapies. Available at http://www.pulmonaryreviews.com/jun03/pr_jun03_phenotype.html. Accessed: June 8, 2003.
    2. Bateman ED, Hurd SS, Barnes PJ, Bousquet J, Drazen JM, FitzGerald M, et al. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention: GINA executive summary. Eur Respir J. 2008 Jan. 31(1):143-78.
    3. Bailey WC, Richards JM Jr, Brooks CM, Soong SJ, Windsor RA, Manzella BA. A randomized trial to improve self-management practices of adults with asthma. Arch Intern Med. 1990 Aug. 150(8):1664-8. 
    4. https://www.ventolin.com/about-ventolin-hfa/how-to-use.html
    5. https://www.ventolin.com/about-ventolin-hfa/how-to-clean.html

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