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.

What Is Albuterol?

Albuterol is a prescription medication used to treat airway spasms (called bronchospasms). These bronchospasms are most common in people with asthma, but can also occur in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema. Some forms of albuterol are also approved to prevent exercise-induced asthma.
(Click Albuterol Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Different Albuterol Products

Albuterol comes in many different forms. Some are inhaled into the lungs, while others are taken by mouth (swallowed) and work through the bloodstream. Albuterol inhalers include:
Albuterol solution (inhaled using a nebulizer), short-acting tablets, long-acting tablets (Vospire ER®), and syrup are also available.

How Does It Work?

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.
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