Albuterol Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)

Albuterol is a rescue- or quick-relief inhaler. It treats asthma or prevents breathing problems during exercise. This medication works by opening your airways. This makes it easier to breathe. The brand names of this inhaler are Proair®, Proventil®, Respirol® and Ventolin®.

What is this medication?

ALBUTEROL (al BYOO ter ole) treats lung diseases, such as asthma, where the airways in the lungs narrow, causing breathing problems or wheezing (bronchospasm). It is also used to treat asthma or prevent breathing problems during exercise. This medication works by opening the airways of the lungs, making it easier to breathe. It is often called a rescue- or quick-relief inhaler.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Proair HFA, Proventil, Proventil HFA, Respirol, Ventolin, Ventolin HFA

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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat or rhythm
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Seizures
  • Thyroid disease
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to albuterol, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

This medication is inhaled through the mouth. Take it as directed on the prescription label. Do not use it more often than directed.

This medication comes with INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE. Ask your pharmacist for directions on how to use this medication. Read the information carefully. Talk to your pharmacist or care team if you have questions.

Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While it may be given to children for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

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What if I miss a dose?

If you take this medication on a regular basis, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

  • Caffeine
  • Chloroquine
  • Cisapride
  • Diuretics
  • Medications for colds
  • Medications for depression or for emotional or psychotic conditions
  • Medications for weight loss including some herbal products
  • Methadone
  • Pentamidine
  • Some antibiotics like clarithromycin, erythromycin, levofloxacin, and linezolid
  • Some heart medications
  • Steroid hormones like dexamethasone, cortisone, hydrocortisone
  • Theophylline
  • Thyroid hormones

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

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What should I watch for while using this medication?

Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress. Tell your care team if your symptoms do not start to get better or if they get worse.

If your symptoms get worse or if you are using this medication more than normal, call your care team right away.

Do not treat yourself for coughs, colds or allergies without asking your care team for advice. Some nonprescription medications can affect this one.

You and your care team should develop an Asthma Action Plan that is just for you. Be sure to know what to do if you are in the yellow (asthma is getting worse) or red (medical alert) zones.

Your mouth may get dry. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking hard candy and drinking plenty of water may help. Contact your health care provider if the problem does not go away or is severe.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Heart rhythm changes—fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, chest pain, trouble breathing
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing that is worse after use

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Change in taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Trouble sleeping

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Keep inhaler away from extreme heat and cold. Get rid of it when the dose counter reads 0 or after the expiration date, whichever is first.

To get rid of medications that are no longer needed or have expired:

  • Take the medication to a medication take-back program. Check with your pharmacy or law enforcement to find a location.
  • If you cannot return the medication, ask your care team how to get rid of this medication safely.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Copyright ©2024 Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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