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woman using salbutamol inhaler for asthma treatment

The salbutamol inhaler is the most common type of treatment for prevention of bronchial asthma and exercise-induced asthma. This inhaler is also used to treat conditions such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute attacks of asthma (bronchospasm).

Asthma inhalers are the usual treatment for bronchial asthma as well as allergic and non-allergic asthma. The drug works in two different ways: on one hand it eases the inflammation in the lungs, causing airways to widen and letting more air reach the lungs. On the other hand, it cures the spasms that occur the lungs.

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To place an order, fill in our brief questionnaire. You can choose a preferred treatment, such as salbutamol. Our online doctor will review your information and approve an appropriate treatment.

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Using a salbutamol inhaler

Bronchial asthma is due to excessive contraction of bronchial smooth muscles (i.e. passage of airway in the lungs), which causes the shortness of breath typical of acute asthma attacks. The greatest danger here is that an untreated asthma attack leads to a so-called “asthmaticus”: a prolonged acute asthma attack.

By definition, asthma attacks happen unexpectedly, so as a rule, people who suffer from asthma should always have an asthma inhaler with them. Salbutamol inhalers are also used in the regular prevention treatment for asthma.

Salbutamol itself is the active ingredient in most asthma inhalers (e.g. Ventolin) and is usually the first line treatment for asthma.

How does salbutamol work ? The group of beta-2-agonists

Salbutamol belongs to the group of beta 2 agonists, which in brief means that it expands the bronchial tubes (airways in the lungs). It does so by stimulating the selective beta-2 receptors of the bronchial muscles that control the expansion and narrowing of the tubes.

After inhalation, salbutamol becomes effective after five minutes and its effects last for four hours. In general salbutamol is better for the long-term treatment of asthma, with regular inhalations prescribed by a doctor for a certain period of time.

Most studies have shown that salbutamol inhalers are just as effective as other short-acting medicines (beta 2-sympathomimetic drugs, e.g. ipratropium bromide).

This means that salbutamol is just as effective in the short- and long-term treatment of asthma. Salbutamol is therefore recommended as a common treatment for outbreaks of acute asthma

How to use the salbutamol inhaler ?

You should hold the inhaler upside-down, take off the protective cap on the opening of the inhaler. You want to pay attention to inhale deep enough so that the drug gets as far as possible into your lungs.

For this you should deeply breathe in and out three times, and then take a deep breath and action the inhaler (spray) at the very same time. After this, hold your breath for five to ten seconds, and exhale completely. You can breathe in and out again normally or take a few deep breaths (in and out) to help you relax.

If you breathe too rapidly while taking salbutamol, it will radically reduce the effect of the drug which will not be inhaled deeply enough into your airways.

Note that, if needed, a second inhalation can be done at least one minute after the first one. Children and the elderly often need help with using the inhaler.

You can take salbutamol in its inhaler form, but it also exists in a dry-powder inhaler form (Diskus®) as well as syrup, injection or infusion.

Always make sure that you follow your doctor’s prescription and read well the instructions on how to take your salbutamol treatment. For more help, ask your pharmacist to show you how to correctly use the inhaler.

Salbutamol inhaler - Early treatment is key

What is important in the treatment of asthma, especially to prevent the disease from getting worse, is to diagnose and start treating asthma as early as possible.

Years of bronchial inflammation caused by asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema (i.e. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can cause long term damage if not treated early.

If asthma is well controlled, affected persons can usually live a normal life with very little handicap (e.g. problem living in very polluted cities or when making intense efforts). Still, it’s important to always carry an inhaler for emergency situations.

Side effects of the asthma inhaler

There are very few and very uncommon side-effects from taking salbutamol, and even less from inhalers than from tablets. Possible side-effects of salbutamol include headaches, restlessness, muscle spasms and shaky hands. It may also cause taste changes and mouth discomfort.

Less common side-effects include nausea, sweating, high blood sugar and low potassium levels. In patients taking salbutamol tablets, changes in blood pressure and heart problems may occur.

If you already suffer from a heart condition, high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid gland or had a stroke or heart attack recently, you need to see with your doctor if salbutamol is the right treatment for you as you may suffer severe side-effects. Most likely, your doctor will prescribe you an alternative treatment for asthma.

Drug interactions with salbutamol

Once again, the question of drug interaction with salbutamol depends on the form of salbutamol you take: tablets, inhaler or infusion.

If you currently take beta-blockers, it will interact with salbutamol in a way that will weaken the effect of both medications. In some cases it can even trigger severe bronchospasm (asthma attack). Likewise the effect of treatment for diabetes may be greatly affected by high doses of salbutamol.

When taken with other medications such as procarbazine or antidepressants, salbutamol will respectively cause an increase in blood pressure or exacerbate the side effects of antidepressants on your heart and blood vessels.

This is why you need a proper visit at your doctor to find the best asthma treatment suited to you. Also, make sure to read the instructions leaflet on other side-effects and drug interactions.

Other interactions with salbutamol

Taking salbutamol with alcohol will can increase the effects of alcohol on your body.

Pregnant women should pay attention when using salbutamol since the drug can be transmitted to the foetus via the placenta. Therefore, make sure you visit your doctor and mention your treatment for asthma. Pregnant women about to have a baby should avoid taking salbutamol since it can make labor more difficult.

Additionally, salbutamol can be passed into breast milk, however low doses may not be harmful to the newborn – depending on age and other circumstances. Once more, make sure you discuss this with your doctor.

  • UK registered doctors
  • Delivery to Home or Pharmacy
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