Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is used to treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs known as bronchodilators. It works in the airways by opening breathing passages and relaxing muscles. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school.
This medication is taken by mouth and does not work right away. It should not be used for sudden attacks of breathing trouble. Your doctor may prescribe a quick-relief inhaler for sudden shortness of breath/asthma attacks while you are on this medication. Always have the quick-relief inhaler with you. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 3 or 4 times daily. Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Adults and children older than 12 years should not take more than 32 milligrams a day. Children aged 6 to 12 years should not take more than 24 milligrams a day. Children aged 2 to 5 years should not take more than 12 milligrams a day.
Carefully measure your prescribed dose using a medication-measuring device or spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day. Do not increase your dose or take this drug more often than prescribed because your risk of serious side effects will increase.
Learn which of your medications you should use every day and which you should use if your breathing suddenly worsens. Ask your doctor what to do if you have worsening cough or shortness of breath, wheezing, increased sputum, worsening peak flow meter readings, increased use of your quick-relief inhaler, or if your quick-relief inhaler does not seem to be working well. Learn when you can self-medicate and when you should get medical help right away.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: fast/pounding heartbeat.
Rarely, this medication has caused severe (rarely fatal), sudden worsening of breathing problems/asthma (paradoxical bronchospasm). If you experience sudden wheezing, get medical help right away.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
In the US -
Before taking albuterol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have had a serious reaction to similar drugs (such as levalbuterol, metaproterenol, terbutaline); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: heart problems (such as irregular heartbeat, angina, heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes, seizure.
This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, severe shaking (tremors), seizures, chest pain.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as a lung/breathing test, blood pressure) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
Avoid allergens/irritants such as smoke, pollen, pet dander, dust, or molds that may worsen breathing problems.
Learn to use a peak flow meter, use it daily, and promptly report worsening breathing problems (such as readings in the yellow/red range, increased use of quick-relief inhalers).
Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you should have an annual flu shot.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised December 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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