Updated: May 17, 2021
Usually marketed in the United States as the aerosol metered-dose inhaler under brand names (Ventolin HFA, Proair HFA, Proventil HFA) or the powder metered-dose inhaler such as the ProAir RespiClick. It also comes in the form of a nebulizer solution that is emptied into a nebulizer machine for administration. The HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) component in some of the metered-dose inhalers is used to describe the name of the propellant used in these devices. Albuterol works by opening up the airways thereby decreasing wheezing and cough that result from the narrowing of the airways with little to no effect on the heart rate at recommended dose. Albuterol effects can be best described by the feeling you get in a fight or flight situation where your airways open up so as to allow good and deep airflow into the lungs. For this reason, it is commonly prescribed as a "rescue" treatment to patients experiencing intermittent airflow obstructions due to inflammation of the airways from respiratory illnesses such as asthma or bronchitis. It is also prescribed to patients who suffer from airway obstruction when performing extraneous activities such as sports; sometimes this is due to another underlying respiratory condition. Albuterol (Ventolin, Proair etc.) is usually well tolerated when used as prescribed by your physician. However, some patients experience poor response due to improper administration technique. This is where talking to your pharmacist may be quite important and helpful. I have had to counsel several patients, those new to the medication and even past users, at the pharmacy about how to properly and effectively use an albuterol inhaler. Sometimes, patients return to the pharmacy for a counseling session after getting home and realizing they could not work out how to effectively use the inhaler (mostly in my older patients). Children, especially those who are less than 4 years old, may benefit from the addition of a spacer or a spacer and mask combination attached to the inhaler for effective administration. One box of an aerosol metered-dose albuterol inhaler (Ventolin, Proair etc.) should last between 16 to 30 days. It is very important to not exceed the recommended dose of either the aerosol metered-dose or the nebulized solution formulations of albuterol. Using more than the prescribed dose may be an indication of either a worsening of condition or improper administration. Talk to your pharmacist if you need to refill your inhaler earlier and more often than normal. Also, using more than recommended dose may increase risk of adverse effects usually described by patients as tremors, fast heartbeat, jittery, and nervousness.