Albuterol is used to prevent and treat difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness caused by lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways). Albuterol inhalation aerosol and powder for oral inhalation is also used to prevent breathing difficulties during exercise. Albuterol inhalation aerosol (Proair HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA) is used in adults and children 4 years of age and older. Albuterol powder for oral inhalation (Proair Respiclick) is used in children 12 years of age and older. Albuterol solution for oral inhalation is used in adults and children 2 years of age and older. Albuterol is in a class of medications called bronchodilators. It works by relaxing and opening air passages to the lungs to make breathing easier.
Albuterol comes as a solution (liquid) to inhale by mouth using a special jet nebulizer (machine that turns medication into a mist that can be inhaled) and as an aerosol or powder to inhale by mouth using an inhaler. When the inhalation aerosol or powder for oral inhalation is used to treat or prevent symptoms of lung disease, it is usually used every 4 to 6 hours as needed. When the inhalation aerosol or powder for oral inhalation is used to prevent breathing difficulty during exercise, it is usually used 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. The nebulizer solution is usually used three or four times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use albuterol exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you feel that albuterol inhalation no longer controls your symptoms. If you were told to use albuterol as needed to treat your symptoms and you find that you need to use the medication more often than usual, call your doctor.
Albuterol controls symptoms of asthma and other lung diseases but does not cure them. Do not stop using albuterol without talking to your doctor.
Each albuterol aerosol inhaler is designed to provide 60 or 200 inhalations, depending on its size. Each albuterol powder inhaler is designed to provide 200 inhalations. After the labeled number of inhalations has been used, later inhalations may not contain the correct amount of medication. Dispose of the aerosol inhaler after you have used the labeled number of inhalations, even if it still contains some liquid and continues to release a spray when it is pressed. Dispose of the powder inhaler 13 months after you open the foil wrapper, after the expiration date on the package, or after you have used the labeled number of inhalation, whichever comes first.
Your inhaler may come with an attached counter that keeps track of the number of inhalations you have used. The counter also tells you when to call your doctor or pharmacist to refill your prescription and when there are no inhalations left in the inhaler. Read the manufacturer's instructions to learn how to use the counter. If you have this type of inhaler, you should not try to change the numbers or remove the counter from the inhaler.
If your inhaler does not come with an attached counter, you will need to keep track of the number of inhalations you have used. You can divide the number of inhalations in your inhaler by the number of inhalations you use each day to find out how many days your inhaler will last. Do not float the canister in water to see if it still contains medication.
The inhaler that comes with albuterol aerosol is designed for use only with a canister of albuterol. Never use it to inhale any other medication, and do not use any other inhaler to inhale albuterol.
Be careful not to get albuterol inhalation into your eyes.
Do not use your albuterol inhaler when you are near a flame or source of heat. The inhaler may explode if it is exposed to very high temperatures.
Before you use albuterol inhaler or jet nebulizer for the first time, read the written instructions that come with the inhaler or nebulizer. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or respiratory therapist to show you how to use it. Practice using the inhaler or nebulizer while he or she watches.
If your child will be using the inhaler, be sure that he or she knows how to use it. Watch your child each time he or she uses the inhaler to be sure that he or she is using it correctly.
To inhale the aerosol using an inhaler, follow these steps:
To inhale the powder using the inhaler, follow these steps. Do not use the Respiclick inhaler with a spacer:
To inhale the solution using a nebulizer, follow these steps;
Inhaled albuterol is also sometimes used to treat or improve muscle paralysis (inability to move parts of the body) in patients with a condition that causes attacks of paralysis. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using albuterol inhalation,
If you have been told to use albuterol inhalation on a regular schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Albuterol inhalation may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
Albuterol inhalation may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Keep unused vials of nebulizer solution in the foil pouch until you are ready to use them. Store nebulizer solution vials in the refrigerator or at room temperature away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store the the inhaler at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not puncture the aerosol canister, and do not discard it in an incinerator or fire.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.