Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is used to prevent and treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is also used to prevent asthma brought on by exercise. It is a quick-relief drug. 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.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. Follow the illustrated directions for the proper use of this medication and proper cleaning of the mouthpiece. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Shake the canister well before using. Follow the instructions for test sprays in the air if you are using a canister for the first time or if you have not used it for 2 weeks or more, or if the inhaler has been dropped. A fine mist is a sign that the inhaler is working properly. Avoid spraying the medication in your eyes.
Inhale this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often than prescribed without your doctor's approval. Using too much of this medication will increase your risk of serious (possibly fatal) side effects.
It is recommended that you use a spacer device with this medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
If two inhalations are prescribed, wait at least 1 minute between them.
If you are using other inhalers at the same time, wait at least 1 minute between the use of each medication.
Always have this quick-relief inhaler with you. Keep track of the number of inhalations you use, and discard the inhaler after you have used the labeled number of inhalations on the product package. Also count test sprays used to prime the inhaler.
Learn which of your inhalers you should use every day (controller drugs) and which you should use if your breathing suddenly worsens (quick-relief drugs). Ask your doctor ahead of time what you should do if you have new or worsening cough or shortness of breath, wheezing, increased sputum, worsening peak flow meter readings, waking up at night with trouble breathing, if you use your quick-relief inhaler more often (more than 2 days a week), or if your quick-relief inhaler does not seem to be working well. Learn when you can treat sudden breathing problems by yourself and when you must get medical help right away.
Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen.
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 using 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.
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 about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
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.
Albuterol is very similar to levalbuterol. Do not use medications containing levalbuterol while using albuterol.
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 (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.
If you are using this medication on a prescribed schedule and miss a dose, use 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 at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. It is best to store the inhaler with the mouthpiece down. Different brands of this medication have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist.
Do not puncture the canister or expose it to high heat or open flame. 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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