Breathing difficulties can reduce the quality of your life and may keep you off from work or school. Those living with chronic spells of asthma (or other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases – COPD) are more likely to experience wheezing, shallow breathing cycles, and/or restricted respiration. Medicines belonging to a genre called bronchodilators are commonly prescribed for treating such conditions. Albuterol forms part of this class of medications. But, prior to starting the intake of this med, it is a good practice to know more about its side effects as well as safety precautions.

Breathing difficulties can get triggered by exposure to allergy-causing agents (allergens) such as pollen, dander, dust, or mites. Among those living with bronchitis or asthma, exposure to pollutants can lead to an acute spell of breathing problems. Drugs such as albuterol (also known as salbutamol) are widely prescribed for the treatment of these spells. Albuterol is a bronchodilator drug; its chief action is to relax the muscles of your airways. Once these pathways are dilated, your breathing becomes normal and easy.

This medicine needs to be inhaled orally; dosage is usually given once every 5 hours. No two people living with respiratory conditions are however prescribed the same dosage strength. Your dosage depends on a lot of other factors; key among them include your age, gender, body weight as well as the incidence of prior ailments if any. Owing to these considerations, it is not a good practice to alter the dosage strength or discontinue the use of such drugs without the consent of your treating doctor. Albuterol is a rescue med; hence, you can take it for obtaining quick relief from intensive episodes of breathing disorders. For example, a few people may live with exercise-triggered bronchitis/asthma; in such people, it is recommended to use this bronchodilator at least 20 minutes prior to your workout session.

While inhaling this drug, you are advised to hold the inhaler device erect and place it near your mouth. Upon hearing a click, place it into your mouth and breathe-in in a deep manner. You are advised to hold it for at least 7 seconds; you may also hold your breath longer – say for up to 10 seconds, if you are comfortable. For those who are vulnerable to frequent attacks of asthma, it is a good practice to store the inhaler at home and have it ready for use.

Side effects of albuterol

Like other bronchodilator meds, albuterol is likely to cause a few side effects. Most commonly experienced side effects are migraines, tremors (shakes), feeling excessive levels of dizziness, being in a restless state of mind, abdominal problems (such as nausea), hoarseness of voice, dryness or oral parts, etc. In some cases, users may also observe a marked change in their sense of taste. The good news is – most of these side effects may cease to show up once your body gets used to albuterol (and its active ingredients).

In some one-off cases, bronchodilators like albuterol may increase your blood pressure level. Hence, it is recommended to check your blood pressure on a periodic basis. It is important to know that your treating doctor has prescribed this drug as the benefits accrued far outweigh the risks of side effects these drugs cause. Most users never reported any major discomforts / severe side effects. However, if you encounter spells of erratic heartbeats, pain in your chest, being in a confused frame of mind, faster breathing rate, etc., your treating physician must be informed of such discomforts.

Those with prior allergies to salbutamol-based bronchodilators must take added care while consuming albuterol. In such users, allergic reactions in the form of rashes, inflammation of facial parts and/or oral organs, hives, itchiness, and extreme phases of dizziness or drowsiness may show up. Upon sensing one or more of these acute side effects, you are advised to seek medical help in an emergency mode. Those who live in any of the Canadian provinces may rush to a poison control unit or reach out to Health Canada for needful support. On the other hand, users living in the US are advised to call the helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA); you may also quickly reach out to 911 for taking needful medical support.

Safety precautions to be followed if you are taking albuterol

Foremost of all, tell your doctor if you have had prior episodes of hypersensitivity or allergies to drugs such as levalbuterol or salmeterol. As this med may contain a few forms of milk proteins or sugars (such as lactose), tell your physician if you are living with lactose intolerance or other forms of allergies. Also, if you have had a recent cardiac arrest or if your medical history includes conditions such as erratic heartbeats, hypertension, convulsion, fits, or epileptic seizures – your caregiving team must stay aware of such conditions.

Dizziness is one of the most common side effects of albuterol. So, never take alcohol or other intoxicants (such as marijuana or cannabis) while you are using this bronchodilator. Those who took albuterol along with alcohol experienced severe spells of dizziness as well as drowsiness. For the same reason, you are advised not to drive or work with heavy machines. Your treating doctor will advise you to limit your intake of alcohol while you are on this medication plan. Talk to your physician if you are planning to undergo surgery, prepare for a dental intervention (such as excision of the tooth), etc. Women who are planning to get pregnant (in such instances, the use of contraceptives is highly recommended), also – those who are already pregnant and women who are breastfeeding must keep away from using this med.

In sum, albuterol is a bronchodilator drug; its main function is to relax the muscles of your air pathways. As muscles of your lungs are eased, breathing becomes an easy activity. This drug may trigger a few discomforts; commonly experienced side effects of using albuterol include headaches, shaking, drowsiness, dizziness, restlessness, nausea, etc. It is recommended to check your blood pressure level regularly as this drug is capable to increase your pressure. Upon experiencing tachycardia (faster heartbeats), confusion, etc. take medical help in an urgent mode.

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