Incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders – also known as COPD – is triggered by several factors. Studies indicate that a shortfall of chemical called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) is widely associated with the onset of COPD. Your doctor may prescribe lab procedures – based on samples – to diagnose insufficiency of AAT in your system. Lung conditions may also be diagnosed through multiple means such as – use of a spirometer, through an x-ray or CT scan of your chest region. Drugs categorized as bronchodilators are widely administered for to treat breathing conditions. Albuterol and levalbuterol are widely used drugs under the genre of bronchodilators. But, how does albuterol compare with levalbuterol? It is a wise thing to gather added inputs and know more about the differences in between these two drugs.
A few distinctive symptoms of COPD include an urge to cough often, gasping for breath, development of congestion in your chest, build-up of mucus in the airways, etc. If the supply of oxygen gets reduced sizably – owing to shallow breathing – a blue color may develop on your toenails as well as finger tips. If left untreated, such a condition may result in a near-fatal or a fatal outcome. You need to know that respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchial asthma are a few leading examples of COPD. These conditions are often accompanied with severe episodes of respiratory problems. So, if it becomes difficult to breath, and if you are panting or as struggling to inhale / exhale air, it is a safe practice to talk to your treating doctor. Drugs belonging to a class of meds called bronchodilators are widely administered; these help widen your lungs / airways and help stabilize your breathing rate.
What is levalbuterol tartrate?
Among the various types of bronchodilators, levalbuterol is a beta agonist. Its essential chemicals help relax the muscles and tissues of lungs. The key elements also aid in the elimination of additional traces of mucus in airways. These two actions soon lead to regularising your respiratory function.
Levalbuterol controls the rate of availability of a naturally forming chemical known as epinephrine. This chemical is considered to play a critical role in regulating hormonal secretions that eventually influence your blood sugar level, brain function as well as respiration. Hence, this med may not work well if you are already taking meds to control epinephrine production. In some cases, patients are administered with supplements of this chemical. It is very important to know that levalbuterol tartrate should not be used along with epinephrine supplements. Such usage may cause an overdosed condition.
The liquid version of this drug is widely used. This form is administered through a device called nebulizer. This device atomises or vaporises the liquid. Once atomised, smaller finer particles of this med can gain entry into the air channels. This action is essential for the curative process. However, no two people living with breathing conditions are prescribed with the same dosage strength and frequency. Your dose is influenced by age, body weight, medical history of disorders / diseases, if any, etc. Above all, how your system reacts to the first few dosages of this drug also determines your dosage plan and frequency of doses.
What is albuterol sulfate?
As mentioned, bronchodilators are drugs commonly used for the case management and treatment of breathing difficulties. Albuterol is a popular drug in the genre of drugs providing needful relief from respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and a few other forms of COPD. It is also widely referred as salbutamol. This drug is available in several versions. Your treating doctor decides which version suits best for your medical condition. The liquid version / aerosol version is a popular form. On the other hand, a long action variant is also available – this is used once every 10 or 11 hours. Albuterol sulfate is a quick relief drug, and needs to be prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner or a chest physician. In this milieu, it becomes essential to remember that it is always used under the clinical care and supervision of your caregiving team.
How does albuterol sulfate compare against levalbuterol tartrate?
Levalbuterol tartrate activates beta receptors which help widen the air channels and make breathing easy. On the other hand, albuterol sulfate has a mixture of R-enantiomers as well as S-enantiomers; of these two active ingredients, the former is an active ingredient. Levalbuterol tartrate – when taken in metered doses – is taken at dosage strengths of 40 micrograms (mcg); in case of nebulised approach of consumption, concentration can range from 0.31 to 1.25 milligram per 3 milliliter (mg / 3 ml).
On the other hand, racemic variant of albuterol is sold in the form of oral pills. The immediately released form of the racemic version is available in strengths of 2 milligrams (mg) as well as 4 mg. An extended release version of this drug is sold at strengths of 4 mg or 8 mg. A liquid variant also is available of albuterol sulfate: standard concentration level is 2 milligram per 5 ml (mg / 5 ml).
Key difference between these two is: levalbuterol is seldom / not available in the form of oral pills while albuterol sulfate is sold as pills as well as solution for oral use. Another key difference is levalbuterol is never given to children aged below 4 years; this precaution is not issued for albuterol. The latter is used for infants as well as children aged less than 4 years.
Prior to launch of levalbuterol tartrate, it was considered to trigger heartbeat related problems. But, studies pursued of its aftereffects show that it bears almost the same degree of risks of triggering tachycardia or erratic / faster heartbeats. On the pricing front: levalbuterol tartrate is more expensive compared to albuterol sulfate. Its liquid form is known to a priced higher than tablet version. In general, levalbuterol tartrate is prescribed when albuterol sulfate provides no / limited easing of your airways. But, a few specific studies indicate no big difference in the functioning and efficacy of these two bronchodilators.
Albuterol sulfate is used for conditions such as exercises-induced or workout-triggered forms of asthmatic attacks; levalbuterol tartrate is not prescribed for treating such breathing conditions. However, the latter is used for such purposes as an off-label use. A major difference is the use of albuterol sulfate for respiratory conditions among neonates or newly born infants. This is a no-go area for levalbuterol tartrate. For the treatment of excessive presence of potassium (clinically referred to as hyperkalemia): both these drugs are used as off-label meds. Key signs of this medical condition include weakness and persistent spells of tiredness.
Precautions to be followed while using either of these two bronchodilators
As one of the foremost precautions, never consume beta blocking meds along with any of these bronchodilators. These drugs are also known to increase your blood pressure level; hence, those who are living with hypertension and are taking drugs for treating tachycardia and / or high blood pressure (or cardiac dysfunction) need to tell their caregiver of all such cardiac conditions. It is safe to keep your doctor and pharmacist abreast of the drugs you are consuming currently. While you are updating your caregiving team of such meds, care to add over the counter meds, prescription drugs, supplements taken for minerals, vitamins as well as proteins, dietary aids, herbal drugs, etc. to the list. Once you have shared this listing, do not alter it without the consent of the prescribing doctor and / or pharmacist.
Both drugs may cause a few undesired side effects and discomforts. Common among such adverse reactions is being restless, mood shifts including depression, hallucinations or phobias, episodes of headaches, dizziness, sleeping disorders, etc. Patients with breathing conditions who use any of these bronchodilators may also experience abdominal pains, cramped muscles, shaking of the body and a few abdominal discomforts such as nausea, indigestion and vomiting. If you are witnessing abnormal pulse rate, erratic heartbeats, itchiness or other skin conditions, it is highly recommended to talk to your caregiving team as quickly as possible.
These drugs may cause excessive levels of dizziness; hence, it is not safe to work with heavy machines, drive or do adventurous actions like swimming. Last but not least, do not refrigerate or freeze these medicines. Instead, store them in your medicine chest or cabinet at room temperature. Freezing these drugs may see a substantial loss of their treatment properties. Always make sure that the drugs are not exposed to harsh light sources or sunlight. Also, storage of drugs in bathrooms is not advised as the moisture content there may impair these drugs’ efficacy.
In sum, a key difference between levalbuterol tartrate and albuterol sulfate is the former is never administered onto children below 4 years of age. On the other hand, albuterol can be offered to infants and younger children. Another important difference is albuterol sulfate can be used for workout-triggered asthmatic attacks; levalbuterol is however used for such conditions only through an off-label mode. Above all, albuterol sulfate can treat breathing conditions of newly born babies. In order to obtain more details about the differences between these two bronchodilators, you are advised to talk to a qualified chest physician and / or a pharmacist.