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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Inhaled form: May become ineffective if used too often, resulting in more severe breathing difficulty that does not improve. Signs include persistent wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath; confusion; bluish color to lips or fingernails; inability to speak. Ingested form: Chest pain or heaviness; irregular, racing, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat; lightheadedness; fainting; severe weakness; severe headache.
 
Common

Nervousness, tremor, dizziness, headache, insomnia.
 
Less Common

Dryness and irritation of the nose, mouth, and throat; heartburn; nausea; muscle cramps.
Albuterol


Drug Class:
Bronchodilator/sympathomimetic

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Generic 2 mg
(Biocraft)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions
 


Available In
Inhaler, solution, capsules, tablets, syrup

Why Prescribed
To dilate air passages in the lungs that have become narrowed as a result of disease or inflammation. It is used in the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

How It Works
Albuterol widens constricted airways by relaxing the smooth muscles that surround the bronchial passages in the lungs.

Range and Frequency
Use it when needed to relieve breathing difficulty. For bronchospasm: one to two puffs of aerosol inhaler every four to six hours; or 2.5 mg of solution delivered via nebulizer three to four times a day; or 200 micrograms (mcg) of capsules for inhalation using Rotahaler every four to six hours; or 2 to 4 mg of tablets three or four times a day, not to exceed 32 mg per day. Children may require a smaller dose, and the syrup form of the drug may be preferable to young patients. For prevention of exercise-induced asthma: one or two inhalations (at least one full minute apart), 15 minutes prior to exercise.

Onset of Effect
Inhalant: Within five minutes. Oral forms: Within 15 to 30 minutes.

Duration of Action
Inhalant: three to six hours. Oral forms: eight hours.

Dietary Advice
Albuterol can be taken on an empty stomach or with food or milk.

Storage
Contents of aerosol canisters are under pressure; do not puncture. Store canister away from heat, open flame, and direct light.

Missed Dose
Skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
It may not be necessary to finish the recommended course of therapy. Consult your doctor.

Prolonged Use
Therapy may require months or years. Excessive use may result in temporary loss of effectiveness.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Dizziness may occur as a side effect and interfere with your ability to perform such tasks safely. Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
No special precautions are necessary.

Pregnancy
Studies have indicated that albuterol may cause birth defects in mice when given in extremely large doses; effects from normal doses have not been established. Consult your doctor for advice.

Breast Feeding
Albuterol may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children
Not recommended for use by children under the age of two.

Special Concerns
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to albuterol. The inhaler should be primed prior to the first use and in cases when it has not been used for more than two weeks. Prime it by releasing four test sprays in the air away from the face. You should wash your rotahaler (once every two weeks) and inhaler (once a week) to prevent medication build-up and blockage. Wash the two halves of the rotahaler or the mouthpiece of the inhaler (with the canister removed) with warm water and shake to remove excess water. Both the rotahaler and the inhaler should be air-dried thoroughly.

Overdose Symptoms
Confusion, delirium, severe anxiety, seizures, nervousness, headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, insomnia, chest pain, muscle tremors, profound weakness, rapid and irregular pulse.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or your local hospital immediately.

Drug Interactions
Albuterol should not be used within 14 days of using an MAO inhibitor or tricyclic antidepressants. Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking beta-blockers, loop or thiazide diuretics, high blood pressure medications, digitalis drugs, epinephrine, ergot, finasteride, furazolidone, guanadrel, guanethidine, maprotiline, methyldopa, any nitrate, a phenothiazine, pseudoephedrine-containing products, rauwolfia alkaloids, terazosin, theophylline or other asthma medications, or thyroid hormone.

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Consult your doctor if you have an overactive thyroid, diabetes mellitus, a history of seizures, heart problems, high blood pressure, or blood vessel disease.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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