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Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 21.02.2023 | 2 min read

Albuterol, also known as albuterol sulfate, is the active ingredient in the reliever inhaler used to support respiratory conditions. It is also commonly known by the brand name Ventolin or Proventil. This prescription-only medication can also come in tablets, capsules, or nebules for people who cannot use an inhaler effectively.

Who is it for?

The primary use of albuterol is to help relieve breathlessness in patients with respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD, and is suitable for most adults and children. Triggers such as allergens and exercise can cause the airways to tighten, leading to breathlessness. This is when the inhaler is most needed. Unlike other inhalers, albuterol works within 5 minutes of inhalation, giving almost instant relief.

How does it work?

Albuterol is a bronchodilator medicine, which means it expands the airways. Once inhaled, it is absorbed into the lungs, opening the air passages and improving airflow into the lungs leading to a reduction in breathlessness.

How to use an albuterol inhaler

Depending on which brand of albuterol you may have, the instructions on how to use it may differ.

For Ventolin:

  • Start by removing the cap and shake the canister gently.
  • Hold the inhaler with your thumb on the base below the mouthpiece and your index finger on the top of the canister.
  • Breathe out as far as is comfortable.
  • Without breathing back in, place the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it.
  • Breathe in through your mouth normally.
  • Just before a deep breath, press down on the top of the canister and take a deep, steady breath.
  • Remove the inhaler from the lips and hold your breath for a few seconds, or as long as is comfortable.
  • Allow for at least 30 seconds before you take another puff

Are there any side effects?

As with all medications, there is the potential for serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction. You should stop taking albuterol and seek urgent medical attention if you develop a skin rash or swelling of your tongue, mouth, lips, face or throat.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, low potassium, or any questions before starting to use albuterol, you should speak with your pharmacist or doctor.

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