Ventolin is a type of asthma inhaler. Its active ingredient, Salbutamol, is the most commonly prescribed treatment for asthma. When you take Ventolin, it starts working quickly and can help relieve asthma symptoms for up to 5 hours.
The active substance is salbutamol sulphate or albuterol sulphate. HFA 134a is also an ingredient. Ventolin MDIs are made of an aluminium alloy can, sealed with a metering valve, actuator and dust cap. Each canister contains 200 doses.
1 inhaler(s) - £12.95
2 inhaler(s) - £24.95
What is a Ventolin inhaler?
A Ventolin inhaler is an asthma inhaler that contains medicine to help widen the airways of your lungs.
You can use a Ventolin inhaler to relieve:
- chest tightness
- asthma attacks
Ventolin is also known as a ‘reliever’ or a ‘blue inhaler’. The active ingredient in a Ventolin inhaler is salbutamol and it acts within minutes to relieve asthma attacks brought on by exercise, dust, pollen and other triggers.
If you’re using your Ventolin inhaler a lot, you may need to see a doctor to review your asthma management plan.
How to use a Ventolin inhaler
To use a Ventolin inhaler follow these steps:
- Stand or sit upright
- Remove the mouthpiece cover and ensure the mouthpiece is clean.
- Shake the inhaler 4 or 5 times
- Hold the inhaler with your thumb at the base and your fingers on the canister.
- Breathe out and place the mouthpiece in your mouth with your lips forming a seal around it
- Take a normal breath in and press the canister down with your fingers to release a puff of the medicine
- Hold your breath and take the mouthpiece out of your mouth
- Keep holding your breath for up to 10 seconds or as long as is comfortable
- If you have been told by your doctor to take 2 puffs, wait for 30 seconds before repeating steps 3 to 8
- Place the mouthpiece cover back on the inhaler until you hear a click
You can practise in front of a mirror before you begin. If a mist comes from the top of your inhaler or out from the sides of your mouth, you might need to practise using your Ventolin inhaler correctly. Spacer devices can be helpful and allow up to twice as much salbutamol to reach your lungs, compared with not using one. You can buy these from your local pharmacy or get them online.
Young children may need help to use a Ventolin inhaler, so they should practise together with a parent or guardian. You can ask a doctor if a spacer or chamber device may be helpful for them.
If you have weakness or difficulty using your hands, you can use both thumbs on the base of the inhaler and two forefingers on the top of the inhaler. Alternatively, a doctor may be able to recommend a different form of inhaler that is more suitable for you.
Using an inhaler for the first time
Before you use your Ventolin inhaler for the first time, check it works by:
- Removing the mouthpiece cover
- Shaking the inhaler well
- Pointing the inhaler away and releasing 2 puffs into the air
If you have not used your Ventolin inhaler for more than 5 days, follow these steps too.
Common side effects of Ventolin include:
- tremors or feeling shaky
- heart beat changes
Uncommon side effects of Ventolin include:
- mouth irritation
- throat irritation
- muscle cramps
Rare side effects of Ventolin include:
- low potassium levels in your blood
- increased blood flow to your arms and legs
Let your doctor or another healthcare professional know about any side effects you experience. You can report side effects by using the Yellow Card Scheme online or through their app.
You should be aware of certain side effects when you take Ventolin. You may not experience all or any of these. However, contact a doctor immediately if:
- your breathing or wheezing gets worse immediately after using Ventolin
- you develop swelling of the face and neck
- you develop a rash
- you become light-headed, feel faint or collapse
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you feel your heart is beating:
- with extra beats
Heartbeat changes or palpitations with Ventolin are usually harmless, but should be checked by a doctor if they do not go away on their own. Do not stop using Ventolin unless told to do so.
Ventolin works very quickly to open up your airways, usually in less than 5 minutes. This should make it easier for you to breathe right when you need it.
The salbutamol in the Ventolin inhaler works straight away on the muscles in your breathing pipe, and keeps them open so more air can get into your lungs.
Each Ventolin inhaler canister contains 200 puffs. If you use up to 6 puffs a week, which is the maximum for controlled asthma, your Ventolin inhaler should last more than 6 months.
To use a Ventolin inhaler safely, follow the instructions from your doctor or another healthcare professional, such as an asthma nurse.
If you’re an adult or over 12 years old, a safe number of puffs from a Ventolin inhaler is usually:
- 1 or 2 puffs for symptom relief
- Up to 10 puffs to help relieve an asthma attack
- 2 puffs around 10 to 15 minutes before exercise or coming into contact with a ‘trigger’ like pollen
- 2 puffs up to 4 times a day for regular asthma treatment or slight difficulty breathing
Speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you take more Ventolin than you should. Anyone using their Ventolin inhaler more than 3 times a week, or needing to wake up at night to take it, has uncontrolled asthma. They should see their doctor to review their management plan.
If you take too many puffs from a Ventolin inhaler, you may:
- have a fast heartbeat
- experience shakiness
- feel hyperactive
These effects will usually fade after a few hours.
Ventolin is not available over the counter so you need a prescription to get it. A doctor at ZAVA can approve your request for a Ventolin inhaler and we can deliver it the following day.
You can request a Ventolin inhaler through our online pharmacy here at ZAVA. Simply fill out a short questionnaire to get started. One of our doctors will review your answers and prescribe Ventolin (or your preferred treatment) if this is suitable. Your inhaler will be sent directly to your door or you can collect it from a nearby Post Office.
There are alternatives to Ventolin inhalers. The right asthma treatment for you will depend on how well you can control your asthma. Your doctor may advise you to keep track of your asthma, to identify your triggers and the symptoms you are having.
If your asthma is not getting better with your current treatment, you may need an additional or alternative asthma treatment. This may include other medicines, like inhaled corticosteroids, longer acting bronchodilators and other tablets (such as leukotriene receptor antagonists).
It may also be beneficial if you’re young or have hand problems to use add-on devices to your inhaler, such as a spacer. You can slot a spacer (an empty tube) onto the mouthpiece of the inhaler at one end. At the other end, a mouthpiece or mask is used to breathe in. The spacer has a valve that ensures the medicine is delivered into your airways when you breathe in and does not escape otherwise.
You can overdose on Ventolin if you take more than your doctor prescribes. So you should always take Ventolin as instructed by your doctor to avoid this happening. Go to your emergency department as soon as possible if you experience:
- chest pain
- fast heart beats
- lightheadedness or fainting
- feeling unwell
A Ventolin inhaler is not a steroid. It contains salbutamol, which belongs to a group of medicines called ‘fast-acting bronchodilators’. Salbutamol helps to widen the airways of the lungs so you can breathe better.
If you use a Ventolin inhaler without asthma, it may be because you have other health problems that affect your lungs. These other health problems include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema.
Using a Ventolin inhaler that has not been prescribed for you by a doctor can cause side effects, but these are temporary. You may get side effects such as a headache, feeling your heart beat fast or tremors (body shaking).
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 10 Nov 2021