What is Ventolin used for?
Salbutamol is used to open the airways and make breathing easier in people with breathing problems including:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How does Ventolin work?
Ventolin accuhaler, evohaler, nebules, respirator solution, syrup and injection all contain the active ingredient salbutamol, which is a type of medicine known as a short-acting beta 2 agonist. Salbutamol is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.
Salbutamol works by acting on receptors in the lungs called beta 2 receptors. When salbutamol stimulates these receptors it causes the muscles in the airways to relax. This allows the airways to open.
In conditions where there is narrowing of the airways, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, eg emphysema and chronic bronchitis), it is difficult for air to get in and out of the lungs. By opening the airways, salbutamol makes it easier to breathe.
How is Ventolin taken?
Salbutamol is most commonly taken using an inhaler device. Inhaling the medicine allows it to act directly in the lungs where it is needed most. It also reduces the potential for side effects occurring in other parts of the body, as the amount absorbed into the blood through the lungs is lower than if the medicine is taken by mouth.
Salbutamol inhalers are known as ‘relievers’. This is because when salbutamol is breathed into the lungs it works very quickly to relieve asthma attacks, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Salbutamol inhalers can also be used shortly before exercising or exposure to allergens (things that trigger wheezing, such as pet fur or pollen) to open the airways and prevent wheezing.
You should follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding when to use your salbutamol inhaler and how many inhalations you can use each day. Don’t exceed the prescribed dose.
It is very important to learn how to use your inhaler correctly, as otherwise you won’t be breathing the right dose of medicine into your lungs. Instructions will be provided with your inhaler. However, your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can also show you how to use your inhaler and can check that you are using it correctly.
Ventolin evohaler is a metered dose inhaler (sometimes called an MDI or aerosol inhaler) that delivers the medicine as a fine spray or mist. With this inhaler you co-ordinate pressing down the canister and breathing in the spray. Follow this link for general instructions on how to use a metered dose inhaler. Ventolin evohaler can also be used with a spacer device such as a Volumatic.
Ventolin accuhaler is a dry powder inhaler. It comes pre-loaded with blisters containing individual doses of the medicine as a powder. To take a dose you have to slide the lever on the inhaler. This opens a blister inside the inhaler, making a dose ready for you to inhale. You then breathe out fully, put the mouthpiece to your lips and breathe in steadily and deeply through your mouth. More detailed instructions are provided with the accuhaler.
Salbutamol tablets or syrup are sometimes prescribed for people who can’t use inhalers very well. As these don’t start to work very quickly, oral forms of salbutamol must be taken regularly to help keep the airways open all the time.
Ventolin syrup is usually taken three or four times a day. Follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding the dose and how often to take it. The syrup can be taken either with or without food.
If you forget to take a dose take it as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as usual. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
Nebuliser or respirator solutions of salbutamol are used to treat acute asthma attacks in hospital. A nebuliser is a machine that converts the liquid medicine inside the nebules into particles that can be inhaled. It is used to deliver higher doses of the medicine than a standard inhaler.
People with severe asthma or COPD who have been shown to benefit from regular use of high doses of salbutamol are sometimes prescribed nebules to be used in a nebuliser at home.
Salbutamol may also be given by injection in hospital to treat severe asthma attacks.
Important information about Ventolin
Do not exceed the dose that your doctor has prescribed you to use.
If your inhaler doesn’t relieve wheezing or chest tightness as well as usual, or for as long as usual (at least three hours), or you need to use it more often than usual, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. It may be that your asthma or COPD is getting worse and your doctor might need to give you another medicine. The same applies if you are taking salbutamol by mouth or nebuliser and it doesn’t seem to be working as well as usual.
Inhalers may sometimes cause an unexpected increase in wheezing (paradoxical bronchospasm) straight after using them. If this happens, stop using the inhaler immediately and consult your doctor. The medicine should be stopped and an alternative treatment found.
People with severe asthma should have regular blood tests to monitor the amount of potassium in their blood. This is because low oxygen levels in the blood (hypoxia) and various asthma medicines, including this one, can lower blood potassium levels.
Ventolin should be used with caution by
People with heart disease.
People with an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
People with high blood pressure (hypertension).
People with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
People with diabetes.
Ventolin should not be used by
People with known sensitivity or allergy to any ingredient.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
It is important that asthma is well controlled in pregnant women because severe asthma attacks can be dangerous to the pregnancy. Wherever possible, asthma medications should be taken by inhaler, as this minimises the amount of medicine that enters the bloodstream and crosses the placenta. Salbutamol inhaler can be taken as usual during pregnancy. For further medical advice talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Salbutamol may pass into breast milk in small amounts. The manufacturer states that this medicine should be used with caution in breastfeeding mothers. However, in general, salbutamol inhalers can be used as normal during breastfeeding, because the amount of medicine that passes into the breast milk after using an inhaler is negligable and unlikely to harm the baby. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.