Albuterol is commonly prescribed to treat airway spasms in people with asthma or COPD. Several forms are available, such as a solution that is inhaled using a nebulizer, tablets that are taken orally, or a traditional inhaler. Some people take albuterol regularly to prevent asthma attacks, while others take it only when they need to. Commonly reported side effects include headaches, tremors, and dizziness.
Normally, air moves easily into and out of the lungs through a network of airways. However, during an asthma attack, the muscles around these airways tighten. This narrows the airways and makes it harder to breathe. This is called a bronchospasm.
Albuterol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around the airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs.
Albuterol also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Package insert information for albuterol is available throughout the eMedTV Web site. Look up the specific albuterol product you are taking for package insert information.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed April 4, 2007.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed April 4, 2007.
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