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Albuterol, also known as Salbutamol, is a short-acting bronchodilator that is classified as a beta-2 agonist. It is primarily used to treat and prevent bronchospasm, which is the narrowing of airways in the lungs. Bronchospasm can be associated with conditions like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The medication functions by relaxing the smooth muscles in the airways, thereby opening them up and making it easier to breathe. Albuterol can be delivered via an inhaler, which offers rapid relief from acute symptoms, making it commonly referred to as a “rescue inhaler.” It can also be administered through a nebulizer.
In fact, it’s one of the most prescribed inhalation medications in the United States, with over 60 million prescriptions annually.
While the inhalational route (either via metered dose inhalers or nebulizers) is the most common form of Albuterol administration, there are also oral forms (pills or liquid) of it. However, they are less commonly prescribed because the inhalation form acts directly on the lungs and is typically faster and more effective with fewer systemic side effects.
In the U.S., Albuterol is often prescribed under brand names such as Ventolin, ProAir, and Proventil, among others. It is approved for use in both adults and children, typically those aged 4 and older.
What Is Albuterol Prescribed For?
Doctors prescribe Albuterol primarily as a short-acting treatment for patients who experience lung diseases like bronchitis and asthma and who experience what is known as bronchospasms, which happen when the muscles that line the airways in your lungs (the bronchi) tighten.
This tightening results in wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms. Albuterol can also be used to prevent bronchospasms brought on by exercise as opposed to people who only experience long-term lung conditions.
How Does Albuterol Work?
Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-2 adrenergic agonists or bronchodilators. These medications are commonly inhaled through the mouth to act directly on the bronchial tubes in the lungs.
Albuterol works by relaxing the smooth muscles lining the airways, facilitating the opening of these air passages. This provides relief from asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties triggered by external factors such as exercise or exposure to irritants.
When administered via an inhaler, relief typically begins within minutes, and the effects can last between 4 to 6 hours.
What Are the Side Effects of Albuterol?
As with any form of medicine, there can be side effects. Some of the most common side effects of Albuterol may include the following:
- Feeling nervous or shaky
- Upset stomach
- Irritations in the chest, such as chest pain or a fast heartbeat
- Experiencing pain when urinating
- Headaches, back pain, or body aches
- Sore throats, coughs, sinus pains, or a runny and stuffy nose
Other symptoms that are rarely occurring but are worth noting include:
- Hypotension, known as low blood pressure
- Elevated blood pressure
- Allergic reactions such as hives
- Angioedema, which is an area of swelling that may occur in the face, tongue, abdomen, larynx, or arms and legs
There can also be reactions based on signs of low potassium, including irregular heartbeat, constipation, leg cramps, increased urination, tingling, and muscle weakness.
Frequently Asked Questions About Albuterol
Who Should Not Take Albuterol?
While Albuerol is widely used and believed to be generally safe, there are some patients who should not take this medication. Some examples include those who:
- Have an allergic reaction to Albuterol or any other components of the drug.
- Experience heart conditions, such as tachyarrhythmias or severe heart failure.
- Have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have a seizure disorder, such as epilepsy.
- Have diabetes
The list is not exhaustive. Also, not all of these conditions may be contraindications for the use of Albuterol.
Your doctor should assess your medical history and current condition to determine whether Albuterol is a suitable treatment for you.
What are the Most Common Side Effects of Albuterol?
The most common side effects of Albuterol include dizziness, tremors, nervousness or shakiness, upset stomach, vomiting, cough or throat irritation, and headaches.
What to Avoid While Taking Albuterol?
While taking Albuterol, you should avoid the following:
- Similar inhaled medications such as isoproterenol, levalbuterol, metaproterenol, or pirbuterol.
- Drinking alcohol
- Overusing the drug
- Caffeine and other stimulants
It is also advised that pregnant or breastfeeding women should discuss with their doctor before taking Albuterol as it may not be suitable for them.
Also, albuterol might interact with other medications, so it’s important to consult your doctor before taking any new medication while using albuterol.
What Is the Typical Dosage for Albuterol?
For most people using an inhaler, the typical dosage is one to two inhalations every four to six hours as needed for symptom relief.
The exact dosage will depend on your condition, age, and other factors. It is important to follow the instructions of your doctor and the directions on the medication label when taking Albuterol.
How Long Does It Take for Albuterol to Work?
Albuterol is a fast-acting medication, when inhaled via an inhaler or nebulizer, Albuterol typically starts to work within 5 to 15 minutes after administration.
The bronchodilating (airway-opening) effects of Albuterol generally peak within 60 to 90 minutes and can last for about 4 to 6 hours, depending on the individual and the specific formulation used.
Can You Buy Albuterol Over-The-Counter (OTC)?
No, Albuterol is not available over-the-counter (OTC). It is a prescription medication and can only be legally obtained with a valid doctor’s prescription.
Can You Get Albuterol Online?
Yes, you can get a prescription for Albuterol online with DrHouse. The physicians will assess your condition and determine if Albuterol is the right medication for you. If they deem it to be an appropriate treatment option for you, they will issue an online prescription which can then be filled at any pharmacy of your choice.
Can I Get a Refill for Albuterol From DrHouse?
Yes, you can get a refill for your albuterol prescription from DrHouse. During your appointment, your provider will evaluate your condition, medical history, and existing prescriptions before determining whether a refill is appropriate. If deemed necessary, your provider will write you a new prescription for albuterol.
For more detailed information about Albuterol, you can refer to the following sources:
- Ventolin prescription label, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Ventolin HFA, Ventolin.com.
- Albuterol, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Albuterol, MedlinePlus.
The content on this page has been medically reviewed for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Amy Dougherty, FNP-BC, AGAC
Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.
Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.
If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.
Frequently asked questions
Can I Get a New Prescription or Refill an Existing One Through DrHouse?
Yes, you can get a new prescription or refill an existing one online through DrHouse. You just need to start a consultation with one of our licensed providers and they will be able to assess your needs and provide you with a prescription if necessary.
Please note that the final decision always rests with the doctor based on their professional judgment and your health needs.
What Medications Can't be Prescribed Online By DrHouse?
There are certain medications that cannot be prescribed online by DrHouse physicians due to safety reasons. These include controlled substances, such as opioids and other narcotics, as well as drugs with a high potential for abuse or dependence. DrHouse physicians also don’t prescribe Gabapentin, medical marijuana, muscle relaxants, and HRT medications.
How Do I Get an Online Prescription from DrHouse?
With DrHouse getting a new prescription or a refill for your current Rx is a straightforward and quick process. All you need to do is follow a few easy steps:
- Download the DrHouse telehealth app on your mobile device.
- Create an account by providing basic information and medical history.
- Start an on-demand virtual video consultation with one of our licensed physicians.
- Discuss your medical needs and concerns with one of our physicians.
- A doctor will review your medical history, symptoms, and current medications (if any) to determine if an online prescription is appropriate for you.
- If a physician approves, they will electronically send a new prescription or refill request to the pharmacy of your choice.
- Pick up your medication from the pharmacy.
DrHouse makes it easy for you to get an online prescription from the comfort of your own home. No more waiting in line at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, and no need to take time off work to see a doctor. Our telehealth platform allows you to access quality medical care from anywhere with an internet connection.
For more information about how our telehealth platform works visit our “How DrHouse Works” page.
What Will My Appointment for a New Prescription or Refill Look Like?
During your virtual consultation with a DrHouse physician, you will have the opportunity to discuss your medical needs and concerns.
The consultation will consist of a video call where a physician will assess your medical history and ask you questions about your symptoms and any other relevant information. This is to ensure that a physician has all the necessary information to make an informed decision about your prescription.
You can also ask any questions or clarify any doubts you may have about your condition or medication. Our physicians are happy to address any concerns you may have.
Once a physician has assessed your needs, they will determine if and what type of prescription is appropriate for you. If a new prescription or refill is approved, a doctor will send it electronically to your chosen pharmacy.
How Long Does It Get To Get a Prescription Online With DrHouse?
With our on-demand telehealth service, you have the opportunity to see the first available doctor in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. However, the exact consult time will depend on the complexity of your case and the thoroughness required by the healthcare provider to make an informed decision.
Is It Safe to Get an Online Prescription from DrHouse?
Absolutely, it is safe to get an online prescription from DrHouse. We are committed to ensuring the highest standards of patient safety and privacy.
All our providers are highly qualified US-based physicians and often affiliated with major hospitals. They are board-certified and from the top U.S. medical schools with an average of 20 years of experience.
We strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations, ensuring your personal and medical information is kept secure and confidential. Also, we comply with all applicable state and federal laws related to telehealth and the prescribing of medications.
Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that your safety and privacy are our top priorities when you use DrHouse’s services.
How Much Does DrHouse Cost?
DrHouse strives to provide accessible and affordable telehealth services. DrHouse urgent care, primary care, and specialist visits are $129 or your copay. This includes everything from your initial consultation through to the prescription of your medication.
The cost of a doctor’s visit may be covered fully by your insurance. A typical copay is around $25. We recommend checking with your insurance provider to understand the extent of your coverage for telehealth services.
To learn more about how much DrHouse costs, visit our pricing page
Does DrHouse Accept Insurance?
Yes, DrHouse accepts most major insurances, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Medicare. The extent of coverage may vary depending on your individual plan.
What Is DrHouse’s Prescription Refill Policy?
Our physicians are able to prescribe up to a 90-day prescription without labs for any previously prescribed medication if it’s medically appropriate and is not classified as a controlled substance.
DrHouse physicians also don’t prescribe Gabapentin, medical marijuana, muscle relaxants, and HRT medications.
DrHouse physicians use their medical judgment to determine whether to prescribe and the duration.
In certain cases, the prescription may be limited to 30 days or less. There also may be a 12-month cap for some prescriptions without labs. For medications requiring annual monitoring (such as blood work or imaging), the maximum prescription limit is 90 days within a year without labs.
DrHouse physicians can refer patients to labs for longer prescription periods or refills.