Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is used to treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by breathing problems (e.g., 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.
Take this medication by mouth, usually twice a day (12 hours apart) or as directed by your doctor. Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take it more frequently than prescribed. 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.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
This medication does not work immediately and 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 taking this medication. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
If you use other asthma drugs (including inhaled medications), ask your doctor about how to properly take this medication with your other asthma medicines.
If this medication stops working well or your breathing symptoms become worse, seek immediate medical attention.
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 immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: fast/pounding heartbeat, muscle cramps/weakness.
Rarely, this medication has caused severe (rarely fatal), sudden worsening of breathing problems/asthma (paradoxical bronchospasm). If you experience sudden wheezing, seek immediate medical attention.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
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 (e.g., irregular heartbeat, angina, heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes, low levels of potassium in the blood, seizure, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
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.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.
Caution is advised when using this drug in older adults since they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially the effects on the heart.
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.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., pulmonary function tests, blood pressure, levels of potassium in the blood) may 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.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
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 April 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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