Nasal sprays made of few types of anticholinergics such as ipratropium are used for relieving rhinitis and related blocks in the nasal airways. In essence, such nasal sprays can treat nasal allergies and restore normal breathing cycles. On the other hand, bronchodilators such as levalbuterol, albuterol, and a few others are also commonly used for treating signs of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) as well as related breathing difficulties. But, what are the key differences between levalbuterol and ipratropium? It is important to know the dissimilarities (and similarities) between these two drugs.

Respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma or bronchial asthma are termed as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (in short, COPD). These conditions make it difficult for you to breath and may cause damages to your lungs. If you feel suffocated or if your breathing has become shallow, needful treatment is initiated without much delay. In this light, medications belonging to a category called bronchodilators are widely prescribed to expand your airways and relax your lung muscles.

What is levalbuterol?

Levalbuterol is a beta agonist and is a widely used bronchodilator; its key function is to ease lung muscles, remove mucus formation in air passages and thus cure breathing difficulties. This drug helps release a chemical called epinephrine; this action leads to a quicker relief from respiratory conditions. You may be advised to use this drug through a nebulizer which makes the liquid as finer particles. Once you inhale these atomised particles, it starts easing your respiratory process. Frequency of dosages and dosage strength vary with age, severity of breathing problem and presence of prior ailment, if any.

Key chemicals of this med dilate your airways and decongest your lungs. This bronchodilator is also known for dilating your blood vessels and for enhancing blood flow. Its active ingredients are known to bring about a faster cure i.e., in less than 6 to 7 minutes. The easing of respiration does not last for a longer time; each dose may have its effect for not more than 120 to 180 minutes. This is the main reason for naming it as a rescue drug and not as a maintenance drug. You need to remember that maintenance meds are known to have a long lasting impact on the signs of asthma, bronchitis or other forms of COPD.

What is ipratropium?

This drug comes under the cholinergic genre and is prescribed for treating respiratory conditions triggered by blockages in your nasal pathways, other allergies such as rhinitis as well as common cold. This anticholinergic agent works differently from levalbuterol; the former inhibits the actions of a naturally forming substance called acetylcholine. This natural substance is known to shrink your airways and also enhance the production of mucus. Once this chemical is blocked, your breathing process becomes easier. The effects of each dose may last upto 180 minutes.

This drug is also a rescue medication like levalbuterol. It may take upto 20 minutes for the active ingredients in each dose to start functioning. This drug is used when other anti-allergy meds or antihistamines provide limited relief to your nasal conditions.

What are differences between levalbuterol and ipratropium?

The key difference is levalbuterol and ipratropium is the former is used for acute respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis. On the other hand, ipratropium is widely used to relieve nasal blocks caused by cold and allergic conditions such as rhinitis. Levalbuterol is faster in its action as compared to ipratropium; it only takes a few minutes for the former to start remedial actions. Levalbuterol is not prescribed if you have a prior clinical history of cardiac ailments, high blood sugar level or thyroid / hormonal dysfunction. Also, those who have experienced convulsions, epileptic fits or seizures must tell their treating doctor of such conditions; bronchodilators are never administered onto people with such ailments.

Inputs needed for the safe use of anticholinergic agents like ipratropium

This medication can make you dizzy or extremely drowsy. Hence, you are advised to stay away from it prior to using heavy machinery or if you are driving. Those who have a history of substance abuse (of intoxicants such as marijuana or cannabis) must share needful details with your caregiver. If you have the habit of consuming alcohol on a regular basis, you are advised to limit or stop such drinking habits all through your medication plan.

Those who are planning to opt for a surgical procedure or a dental condition must tell their treating doctor of this dosage plan. It is a standard practice to stop using this drug at least for a few days prior to the date of your surgery. As elderly people are more likely to witness side effects such as dizziness, being confused or drowsiness, the dosages are prescribed at a minimal level for those aged above 55 years.

Inputs needed for safe use of bronchodilators such as levalbuterol

Dosage strength for children is significantly lower than dosages given to adults. Also, dosages are administered based on body weight of children. The typical dosage strength is limited to 0.07 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. However, needful care is required to ensure each dose of levalbuterol does not exceed 1.20 mg. If a teenager (or a younger adult) is down with breathing disorders, dosage-strength may be enhanced to upto 1.8 mg over 2 to 3 hours. Use of a spacer can help you control the dosages with ease. You are advised to talk to your treating doctor prior to commencing your medication plan.

In general, no two people with breathing conditions are administered with same doses of levalbuterol. A key aspect that influences strength of doses is the way your system reacts to the first few dosages of levalbuterol. While using this bronchodilator, never use similar meds like metaproterenol or albuterol. Use of more than one bronchodilator can result in an excessive presence of the key chemicals in your system. Common symptoms of such excessive presence of bronchodilators are include faster heartbeats, erratic pulse rates, palpitations, increase in blood pressure levels, faster respiratory cycles, etc.

You need to remember that levalbuterol must not be administered there if you are not experiencing any breathing problems. Upon using it when there is no asthmatic spell, you may encounter adverse reactions and side effects faster rate of respiration, quicker heartbeat or pulse rate, increased presence of acids in your blood, etc. Also, never take other forms of drugs that may dilate your airways; medications such as albuterol and / or salmeterol. In this context, keep your treating physician informed of your medication you are currently using.

Use of several bronchodilators – all at the same time – can result in an overdosed situation. Owing to such risks, make a list of all drugs you are taking and share it with your caregiver. Care to add over the counter meds, prescription drugs supplements of vitamins or proteins, minerals, herbal meds as well as dietary aids. Last but not least, if you are using any cough or cold meds, your doctor must have all needful details such as dosage strength and duration of treatment.

Women who are already pregnant must not use levalbuterol (or other forms of bronchodilators); a few studies show that women who used these drugs may give birth to infants of lower weight or may even deliver well ahead of their due dates of delivery. Women who aim to become pregnant must take the advice of their treating doctor about non-hormonal contraceptive methods. In the same light, women who are nursing a newly born infant must keep away from bronchodilators. Active ingredients of levalbuterol may pass through into mother’s milk. Infants who fed on milk with traces of this drug may cry more often and may sleep less. In some cases, babies have also developed feeding difficulties. As a general precaution, talk to your doctor prior to using levalbuterol, and know of the likely discomforts the drug as well as its key chemicals may trigger.

In sum, levalbuterol is a beta agonist and is used as a bronchodilator to decongest airways and ease up respiration. On the other hand, ipratropium is an anticholinergic medication which helps remove blockages in the nasal tract; this drug is widely used to treating rhinitis, common cold and other nasal allergies. Key differences between levalbuterol and ipratropium are: former can treat signs of bronchitis, asthma, etc. Ipratropium is commonly prescribed for minor nasal blockages triggered by rhinitis, common cold, etc. Levalbuterol is quicker to act as compared to the anticholinergic agent ipratropium. You are advised to talk to your treating physician to have a detailed comparison of these two drugs.

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