Salbutamol inhalers are reliever inhalers containing the active ingredient salbutamol sulphate. It works to relieve your asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles of your airways into your lungs, making it easier to breathe.
Salbutamol is the generic medication used in brands like Ventolin.
1 inhaler(s) - £11.95
2 inhaler(s) - £19.95
A salbutamol inhaler is called a reliever inhaler. You should use your salbutamol inhaler as soon as you experience asthma symptoms such as:
- tightness in the chest
A salbutamol inhaler is not a preventer inhaler. Preventer inhalers are used as an ongoing treatment for asthma to stop symptoms developing.
The active ingredient in a salbutamol inhaler is salbutamol sulphate, which is a type of fast-acting bronchodilator. When inhaled through an asthma inhaler, this medication works by relaxing the airways in your lungs, keeping airways open and making it easier for you to breathe.
Always follow the instructions of your doctor for how many puffs you should take.
Follow these steps when using your inhaler:
- Sit upright or stand.
- Take off the mouthpiece cover and check it is clean.
- Shake the inhaler a few times to mix the liquid.
- If it is a new inhaler or one you haven’t used for 5 days, press the canister to release 1 or 2 puffs into the air. If you cannot see a puff of the medicine in the air, the canister may be empty.
- Hold the inhaler upright with your thumb at the base just below the mouthpiece.
- Breathe out.
- Close your lips around the mouthpiece of the inhaler to make a tight seal. Do not bite the mouthpiece but rest it between your teeth.
- Breathe in and press down on the top of the inhaler.
- Keep breathing deeply and steadily as the inhaler releases a puff of medicine.
- Hold your breath for as long as you are comfortable. This allows the medication to get into your airways.
- If you have been advised to take two puffs, wait 30 seconds before repeating the process.
- Replace the mouthpiece cover immediately after use.
If you find it difficult to breathe while using the inhaler, you can try to use a spacer. Get more advice on this from your doctor.
Your doctor will tell you how many puffs you should take.
Talk to your doctor if you find you need to use your inhaler:
- more than 4 times in 24 hours
- more than 2 days in a week
- in the middle of the night at least once a week
A salbutamol inhaler should only be used when it is needed. If your asthma is well controlled, you should rarely need to use your inhaler.
Your asthma symptoms should improve once you have used your inhaler. If they do not, or you need to use your inhaler again less than 4 hours later this could be a sign of an asthma attack.
If you are having an asthma attack you should get medical help urgently. You can call your GP if you feel your symptoms are under control and you know what to do. If you are not sure, your inhaler is not helping or you are worried, you should call 999. Do not delay getting help when you are having an asthma attack.
To make sure your inhaler works when you need it, clean and test it every week:
- Take the metal canister from the casing.
- Remove the mouthpiece.
- Do not put the metal canister in water.
- Hold the plastic casing under the tap and run warm water through it.
- Make sure the casing is completely dry before putting the metal canister and mouthpiece on again.
- Shake the inhaler and spray it into the air once to make sure it works.
Your inhaler should start relieving symptoms within 5 to 20 minutes.
If your asthma is triggered by exercise or certain substances (like animal hair, pollen or dust), your inhaler can be even more effective if you use it 10 to 15 minutes before you are exposed.
Adults and children can use a salbutamol inhaler, unless you are:
- allergic to the active ingredient: salbutamol sulfate
If you have the following conditions you should talk to your doctor before using a salbutamol inhaler to be sure it is safe for you to use:
- high blood pressure
- overactive thyroid
- irregular or fast heartbeat or angina
- active asthma
Salbutamol products may contain lactose. The amounts are very small so they will not cause you a problem if you are lactose intolerant. However, you are advised not to use a salbutamol inhaler if you have galactose intolerance, Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactase malabsorption.
Always tell the doctor prescribing your inhaler about any medications (including herbal supplements and antibiotics) you are taking and your medical history.
Salbutamol inhalers are safe to use. As with all medications, some people will experience side effects. If you experience side effects, these can vary from person to person and how serious they are.
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you:
- have symptoms of an allergic reaction, including swelling of the face, lips, mouth, tongue or throat, difficulty in swallowing or breathing, itchy rash, feeling faint and light-headed, and collapse
- feel your heart is beating faster (called tachycardia) or stronger than usual (palpitations)
Common side effects (affect 1 in 10 people)
- feeling shaky
Uncommon side effects (affects 1 in 100 people)
- muscle cramps
- mouth and throat irritation
Rare side effects (affect 1 in 1000 people)
- increased blood flow to your extremities (called peripheral dilatation)
- a low level of potassium in your blood
For more information on the side effects of a salbutamol inhaler, please read the patient leaflet provided with your inhaler.
How long will my salbutamol inhaler last?
Each inhaler contains 200 puffs. If you take 8 puffs per day, one inhaler will last you 25 days. If you take 4 puffs per day, it will last you 50 days. If your asthma is well controlled a salbutamol inhaler should last you several months, because you should not need to use it more than 3 times in a week.
Can you overdose on salbutamol?
You can’t overdose on your inhaler but if you use it too much you can feel as though your heart is beating too fast. This feeling usually goes away after 30 minutes, or a few hours at the most. If it does not or you also have chest pain, talk to a doctor.
Can I use a salbutamol inhaler while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Salbutamol inhalers are generally considered safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about your inhaler use if you plan to have a baby, are pregnant or think you might be, or are breastfeeding.
Can I use a salbutamol inhaler while taking antibiotics?
In general it is safe to take antibiotics and use a salbutamol inhaler. Make sure your doctor knows you use an inhaler so they can be sure to prescribe you the right antibiotic.
Can salbutamol cause your heart to beat faster (tachycardia)?
One of the side effects of the salbutamol inhaler is that your heart beats stronger or faster than usual. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor
Can salbutamol cause thrush?
No. Inhalers with steroids can cause thrush but the salbutamol inhaler does not contain steroids.
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