Albuterol Inhaler – Benefits, Dangers & Alternatives

Albuterol inhaler is a short acting beta agonist which works as a bronchildilator and is used in cases of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to bring quick relief to breathing difficulties normally in the form of an albuterol inhaler.

Beta agonists work by stimulating the body’s beta receptors, particularly those on the muscles surrounding the airways. And causing  the muscles to relax,  opening up the airways and allowing more air to enter the lungs.

Albuterol may also be employed as a preventative in cases of exercise-induced asthma.

Whilst albuterol is available as tablet, an extended-release tablet and a syrup, it is most commonly employed as an albuterol inhaler. In the latter case it may be prescribed as a solution for nebulization, in a metered dose inhaler or in a powder-filled capsule which can be inhaled using a powder inhaler.

Albuterol is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline under the brand names Ventolin, Ventilan, Aerolin or Ventorlin, by Cipla as Asthalin and Asthavent; by Schering-Plough as Proventil and by Pharmaceutical as ProAir.

Using an Albuterol Inhaler

Albuterol should be taken only in accordance with a doctors prescription. It should not be taken more frequently than every four hours. If you find that you need to use it more often than prescribed this may be a sign that your condition is worsening and you should seek medical advice without delay.

The dose prescribed will vary according to such factors as your age, the severity of your condition, the brand used and any other medications you may be using.

In all cases you should familiarise yourself with the correct way to use the albuterol inhaler and know at what stage to take it.

It is of vital importance that you never adjust your dose without seeking medical advice first as Albuterol inhalers incorrectly used may increase the risk of asthma-related death..

Side Effects of Albuterol Inhalers

The list of possible side effects is extensive. As in all drugs some may not experience any at all whilst others may be affected by quite serious reactions.

The less serious side effects of albuterol inhalers may include:

Headache

Nausea

Loss of appetite

Nervousness

Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body

Diziness

Hyperactivity

Cough, hoarseness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose

Sleeping problems (insomnia)

More serious side effects include:

Very high blood pressure experienced as severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, confusion and anxiety, chest pains, a shortness of breath, palpitations and seizures.

Allergic reactions hypotension, urinary bronchospasm and collapse

Low Potassium levels extreme thirst,  muscle weakness, increased urination and confusion. These symptoms may be particularly pronounced in those suffering from renal failure.

If you experience any of the more serious symptoms you should seek urgent medical advice.

Precautions When Using a Albuterol Inhaler

There is a danger of adverse interactions with certain other drugs. these include diuretics (water tablets), many antidepressants, other bronchodilators and MAO inhibitors.

Albuterol inhalers should not be used when pregnant as it is listed as likely to harm the unborn child.

If it enters the eyes, they should be flushed immediately with copious amounts of water and medical attention sought.

Alternatives to Using an Albuterol Inhaler

Whilst an albuterol inhaler may have its place as an emergency standby,  those affected adversly will wish to seek alternatives. There are a number of options for consideration. Firstly there are other short acting beta agonists which include pirbuterol (Maxair) or levalbuterol. Secondly long acting beta agonists may be employed where a doctor considers it appropriate. These are usually effective for upto 12 hours and are normally prescribed together with a corticosteroid drug.

Finally there is the truly alternative approach.

There are certain specific herbal remedies which can be used to advantage. These include mullien, often combined with sage and plantain, which when the vapour from a hot infusion is inhaled can help to dislodge phlegm. Anti-spasmotic herbs such as lobelia and valerian can help to quickly allieviate body spasms and there are also a number of propriety preparations formulated to benefit the lungs.

Traditional chinese medicine may also offer a solution when conducted by a qualified practitioner employing both chinese herbs and acupuncture.

Homeopathy can often bring very beneficial results quite quickly. Whilst this can be attempted at home, due to the number of possible homeopathic remedies to choose from the use of a properly qualified and experienced homeopath is almost an imperative.

What all natural approaches will have in common is the aim of strengthening the immune system and stimulating the bodys own internal healing mechanism. Do not expect a doctor to approve of any methods that do not employ drugs.  However effective these alternative treatments may be in the long term it may remain necessary to employ an albuterol inhaler for short term emergencies.