How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Salbutamol belongs to a class of medications called bronchodilators, and more specifically, β2-adrenergic agonists. This medication is used to treat asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other breathing disorders. It works by relaxing the muscles in the walls of the small airways in the lungs. This helps to open up the airways and make breathing easier.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

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What form(s) does this medication come in?

2 mg
Each light purple, round, flat-faced, bevelled-edged tablet, scored and engraved "APO" over "2" on one side, contains salbutamol sulfate equal to 2 mg of salbutamol. Nonmedicinal ingredients: lactose, microcrystalline cellulose, cornstarch, magnesium stearate, D&C Red No. 30 Aluminum Lake, and ferric-ferrous oxide.

4 mg
Each light purple, round, flat-faced, bevelled-edged tablet, scored and engraved "APO" over "4" on one side, contains salbutamol sulfate equal to 4 mg of salbutamol. Nonmedicinal ingredients: lactose, microcrystalline cellulose, cornstarch, magnesium stearate, D&C Red No. 30 Aluminum Lake, and ferric-ferrous oxide.

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How should I use this medication?

The usual dose for adults and children over 12 years of age is 2 mg to 4 mg, given 3 to 4 times per day. For children 6 to 12 years of age, the usual dose is 2 mg, 3 to 4 times per day.

For seniors and people who are unusually sensitive to medication such as salbutamol, treatment is usually started at 2 mg, 3 to 4 times per day.

The maximum daily dose is 32 mg for adults and children over 12 years of age, and 16 mg for children 6 to 12 years of age.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

Salbutamol tablets should not be used for sudden breathing difficulties. For asthma attacks and other sudden breathing problems, a short-acting bronchodilator inhaler (e.g., salbutamol, terbutaline) should be used.

Salbutamol is best taken on an empty stomach. Take it 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to salbutamol or any ingredients of this medication
  • are experiencing sudden wheezing or difficulty breathing due to asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other breathing problems
  • have an abnormally fast heart rate
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What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • difficulty sleeping
  • dry mouth
  • faster heartbeat (usually temporary)
  • flushing
  • headache
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • tremor (shakiness)

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • difficulty urinating
  • dizziness
  • increased blood pressure
  • signs of decreased levels of potassium in the blood (e.g., irregular or pounding heartbeat. persistent muscle cramps, muscle pain or weakness)
  • vomiting

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain or chest discomfort
  • severe dizziness
  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives; swelling of lips, face, tongue, or throat; difficulty breathing; fainting; increased wheezing or chest tightness)
  • symptoms of too much lactic acid in the blood (deep and rapid breathing, vomiting, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell)
  • worsening breathing problems

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

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Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Asthma control: If your usual dose of this medication no longer seems to work as well or if you are using more of your short-acting bronchodilator inhaler (e.g., salbutamol, terbutaline) than usual, your asthma could be worsening. Contact your doctor if this happens. Do not increase the dose or how often you take this medication without consulting your doctor.

Diabetes: Salbutamol tablets can increase blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Heart conditions: Salbutamol can cause heart complications when used by people with heart conditions such as heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, and high blood pressure. If you have any of these conditions, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Low blood potassium: Salbutamol tablets can cause low potassium levels in the blood. If you experience weakness, tiredness, muscle cramps, nausea, or vomiting while receiving this medication, let your doctor know. Talk to your doctor about whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor will monitor your potassium levels with blood tests if needed.

Overactive thyroid: Salbutamol can increase the activity of the thyroid gland. If you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Seizures: Salbutamol can increase the risk of seizures, especially if you have a history of seizure disorders. If you have a seizure disorder, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Use of anti-inflammatory agents: According to current practice guidelines for treating asthma, anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., corticosteroids such as inhaled beclomethasone, budesonide, or fluticasone) should also be used if this medication is needed regularly, on a daily basis.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor.

Breast-feeding: This medication probably passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 6 years of age. Very rarely, this medication may cause hyperactivity, sleeping problems and behavioural changes in children. If this occurs, contact the child's doctor.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between salbutamol and any of the following:

  • atomoxetine
  • beta-blockers (e.g., propranolol, nadolol, sotalol)
  • caffeine
  • carvedilol
  • certain diuretics (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide)
  • dextroamphetamine
  • digoxin
  • dobutamine
  • dopamine
  • epinephrine
  • labetalol
  • methylphenidate
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine, moclobemide)
  • other bronchodilators (e.g., salmeterol, terbutaline)
  • pseudoephedrine
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, desipramine, nortriptyline)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.