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What is Albuterol

Albuterol is a medication which relaxes the involuntary muscles that line the bronchial tree. It is a useful medication when these muscles have undergone spasm as occurs with asthma, cough variant asthma, bronchiolitis, bronchitis and some allergic reactions. It is available orally as liquids or pills or in inhaled forms (metered dose inhaler (‘MDI’, Rotacaps or nebulizer solution). The medication results in easier breathing and reduced cough when these conditions are present, but will not improve breathing or reduce cough if these conditions are not present.

Common dose related side affects are difficulty sleeping, fast heart rate, restlessness, and tremor. Other reported side effects include: muscle cramps, difficult urination, headache, heart palpitations, nervousness, mouth and throat irritation, bronchial tree spasm, vomiting, and increased blood pressure.

Important points…

What can I do about the side effects?

  • The side effects can be reduced by giving a reduced dosage of the medication. If your child is suffering from these side effects, ask your child’s doctor if a lower dose can be given. DO NOT ALTER THE DOSAGE WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR CHILD’S DOCTOR.
  • If your child is on oral medication and is 5 y.o. or older (or under 5 y.o. but very cooperative) ask about the use of metered dose inhaler. This method of delivery usually delivers about one tenth the dosage of the medication as is given with the oral form, but sends it directly to where it is needed.
  • Eliminate or reduce over the counter “cold” medications because they have similar side effects, causing an additive effect.

As an athlete, can I improve my performance by using an albuterol inhaler?

Only athletes suffering from asthma, exercise induced asthma, or cough variant asthma will benefit from albuterol in any form.
Mild forms of asthma are not always easy to detect because you may not have “audible wheezing”- that is wheezing which can be heard without a stethoscope. Therefore, if you feel that your breathing is difficult out of proportion to your workout, or you find yourself coughing during or just after workouts, you should see your physician.