Salbutamol is a bronchodilator, a medication that dilates and relaxes the airways. A doctor may prescribe this medication for a patient with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or another respiratory condition where the patient experiences bronchospasms, temporary tightness and partial obstruction of the airways. Patients may take several different medications to fully manage their conditions and work with their doctors to develop an appropriate treatment plan for their needs.
There are a number of ways to deliver salbutamol. The medication can be inhaled using a basic aerosol inhaler, nebulizer, or proprietary inhalation product. Tablets and intravenous injections are also available. Salbutamol is fast-acting, with patients experiencing relief shortly after taking the medication. Within five to 10 minutes of the dose, the patient should be breathing much more easily and comfortably.
This medication is commonly used in a rescue inhaler, an inhaler patients use when they experience airway tightening and difficulty breathing. The dose of medication provides quick relief to open the airways when people experience allergy or exercise-induced asthma. Patients may also experience bronchospasms for other reasons, like stress or in response to other medications. If a patient starts using a rescue inhaler with increasing frequency, it can indicate the need for adjustments to the management plans for the patient's respiratory disease. Such adjustments are common and may include taking different medications, changing doses or dosing schedules, and using breathing exercises.
Common salbutamol side effects include tremors, dry mouth, racing heart, and dizziness. Some patients experience a paradoxical reaction when they take this medication, where the airways tighten more and the patient has a risk of going into shock. Low potassium is also a potential complication for some patients on salbutamol. Usually, the side effects wear off as the patient adjusts to the medication. If they continue or grow more intense, the patient should talk to a doctor. The doctor can check for underlying issues like drug interactions and may prescribe a different medication.
Salbutamol and other asthma medications should be kept out of reach of children, and other members of the household should be told not to use them. These medications can be dangerous in people who are not experiencing airway problems, especially at the high doses recommended for patients with severe asthma. In the event someone accidentally takes asthma medication, if the person reports feeling dizzy or experiencing a racing heart, she should be taken to a doctor for treatment.