Why is it prescribed?
Salbutamol is used to relieve and prevent bronchospasm associated with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other pulmonary disorders where bronchospasm is a complicating factor. It is also indicated in the prevention of exercise-induced bronchospasm.
Products that have this ingredient include •Airomir® MDI •Ventolin® Nebules P.F. •Ventolin® inhalation solution •PMS-Salbutamol inhalation solution •Apo-Salvent MDI •Ventolin® HFA •Ipratropium/Salbutamol nebules •Ventolin® Diskus® •Teva-Salbutamol HFA •Combivent® Respimat® •Sanis-Salbutamol Inhaler HFA •Teva-Salbutamol SteriNeb •Teva-Combo Sterinebs •Baca Respiclick™ •
Along with its needed effects, salbutamol may cause some unwanted or undesirable effects. Generally, salbutamol is well tolerated and many people will not experience unwanted effects. The severity and duration of these effects are dependant on many factors including duration of therapy, dose, route of administration and individual response. Possible unwanted effects include:
- cough (inhaled preparations only)
- slight palpitations (awareness of heart beat)
- dry mouth and throat (inhaled preparations only)
- increased heart rate
- muscle cramps
- trouble sleeping
- unusual taste
- angina (chest pain/discomfort)
- increase in blood pressure
- hyperactivity in children
Many of these unwanted effects, especially the most common ones, may disappear with continued use. Check with the doctor or pharmacist if any of them continue or become bothersome.
Salbutamol is a short-acting bronchodilator that acts at specific receptors in the body called beta2-adrenergic receptors. Stimulating these beta2-receptors in the bronchial smooth muscle causes the muscle to relax, allowing the bronchial tubes to dilate (widen). Salbutamol relieves the spasm in the small air passages in the lungs and so helps ease breathing problems.
Poor response to salbutamol can often be attributed to improper use of the delivery device. Be sure to follow the directions given to you by your pharmacist and read the patient instructions that are provided with each product. Never exceed the maximum dosage set by your physician. If you find that you are not responding to your usual dose, it could mean that your asthma is worsening and you should contact your physician. Increasing the dose, especially over extended periods, can lead to decreasing response to the drug. Keep in mind that the bronchodilator action should last between 2 and 6 hours. If you are using salbutamol for an acute asthma episode and the condition continues or worsens, call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately. If you need to use salbutamol to relieve symptoms more than 3 times a week you should also be using an anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. beclomethasone, fluticasone).
Drug Interactions: Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about any prescription or over-the- counter medications you are taking. The following drugs and drug classes have been known to interact with salbutamol:
- MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors (e.g. phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline)
- some beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol)
- other bronchodilators (e.g. terbutaline)
Use is not recommended in the following situations:
- allergy to salbutamol or any component of the preparation (some of these products may contain sulfite preservatives or lactose so ask your pharmacist).
- cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) associated with tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
Caution recommended in the following situations:
- high blood pressure
- cardiovascular disorders
- heart disease
- low blood potassium
- sensitivity to sympathomimetics (drugs that stimulate the central nervous sysytem)
Use in pregnancy: Inhaled salbutamol is considered compatible with pregnancy. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect that you may be pregnant.
Use while breastfeeding: Inhaled salbutamol is considered compatible with breastfeeding, however, consult your doctor or pharmacist before use.