Salbutamol is another generic version of the world-famous asthma medicine Ventolin and is thus based on the same active ingredient, acting through the same mechanism of action and producing the same well-known results. So-called easyhaler version is similar to a traditional inhaler with metered dose indicator. According to its mechanism of action, Salbutamol can be characterized as bronchodilator, a very efficient class of pharmaceutical compounds that can provide quick relief when an asthma attack occurs.

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Asthma treatment options in the UK

Asthma is a rather common condition. This long-term chronic respiratory disease affects more than 5 million people in the United Kingdom alone. The symptoms of asthma are pretty familiar to most – coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. The symptoms are usually not always present, but manifest in response to so-called triggers which can include different outside factors, ranging from dust, chemical residues, to pollen or cold air.

While there is a long way to go until we reach a full understanding of root causes of asthma, there is a broad and very general consensus regarding the thesis that hyper-responsiveness of the immune system plays an important role in the development of asthma in certain individuals. Some scientists argue that this might imply that there’s a direct link between exposure to certain irritants (or complete lack of exposure, according to some) in the early childhood which in turn makes the immune system develop a heightened sensitivity to certain elements, reacting harshly to their presence.

Once the immune system is activated, the chemical interaction within the body will lead to the inflammation of the fine airways in the lungs called bronchi. When this happens, the muscle tissue lining these tubes will start to contract, further narrowing them and creating significant breathing difficulties and tell-tale signs of asthma. With excess phlegm that is rather common in asthmatics, the breathing can become so difficult that immediate medical attention might be necessary.

How does Salbutamol treat asthma?

As a beta-2 agonist, Salbutamol affects specialized receptors within the body, causing the muscle walls to relax, thus contributing to the widening of the bronchi to their natural size. After this, the respiratory passages will dilate, facilitating easier breathing and preventing possible harm brought on by the acute exacerbation of symptoms. At the same time, Salbutamol can be used as a preventive medicine, but only in those cases when exposure to an irritant is imminent within the next 10 to 15 minutes.

How to use Salbutamol?

The most important thing to note when it comes to using Salbutamol is that you should follow the doctor’s instruction precisely. This is a prescription only medicine and it can’t be obtained over-the-counter (OTC). And as is the case with all prescription medicines, there are always some risks of side effects involved. In order to minimize those and at the same time optimize your treatment, you need to carefully stick with what the doctor has said to you. Any confusion related to the use of Salbutamol can be resolved through additional consultations with a doctor or the official patient information leaflet that is issued with every pack.

Depending on the exact nature and severity of your condition, the starting dose recommended to you will be either one puff (of 100 or 200 micrograms) or two puffs (200 micrograms or 400 micrograms). The inhaler shouldn’t be used more than four times per day, with maximum daily dose being 800mcg.

When it comes to actually using the device, the instructions are rather similar:

  • Remove the cap and dust cover
  • Shake the device for a couple of seconds
  • Press the button down and you should hear a click
  • Hold the inhaler upright
  • Breathe out fully
  • Place the mouthpiece of the inhaler between your lips
  • Inhale deeply and sharply
  • Remove the device and hold your breath for a couple of seconds (five if possible)
  • Breathe out slowly

In case you accidentally take more medicine than prescribed, contact your doctor immediately and he will inform you about the further steps you should take.

What are Salbutamol side effects?

As mentioned, every prescription medicine comes with certain risks and side effects. Naturally, not all asthmatics using Salbutamol will be affected, but it is still important to know in advance what could go wrong. Most importantly, if you notice symptoms characteristic of allergy or the exacerbation of symptoms after Salbutamol use, you should contact the emergency services immediately.

The most common side effects can be presented as following:

Side effects Frequency of occurrence
Uneven heart rate Common (1 in 10 patients)
Cough Rare (1 in 1000 patients)
Mouth and throat irritation Rare (1 in 1000 patients)
Dizziness Rare (1 in 1000 patients)
Muscle cramps Rare (1 in 1000 patients)
Headache Uncommon (1 in 100 patients)

Salbutamol interactions – what should I know?

It is important to mention to your doctor all the medicines you might be using at the moment since some drugs can interact with Salbutamol in adverse ways. Some of the medicines that you should be aware of include:

  • Theophylline
  • Aminophylline
  • Corticosteroids
  • Beta-blockers (like propranolol)
  • Water tablets
  • Antidepressants
  • Guanethidine
  • Reserpine
  • Methyldopa

Salbutamol contraindications – is it safe for me?

There are some cases in which the doctor may decide that you aren’t suitable for Salbutamol treatment. Some of the conditions that might prove to be dangerous include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Lung infections
  • Hyperthyroidism (increased activity of the thyroid gland)
  • Low levels of potassium
  • Galactose intolerance
  • Lapp lactase deficiency
  • Glucose intolerance

The tablet version of the medicine also shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. And while inhalator is somewhat safer, it is still advisable to consult with your doctor regarding this topic.