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How Effective Is Albuterol for Coughing?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Based on a few low-scale studies, the use of albuterol for coughing is usually moderately effective for a majority of users. It is not typically sold for this purpose, as it is primarily marketed as an asthma medication that prevents airway constriction. Albuterol is not recommended for non-asthma related coughs.

Albuterol is a medication found in many fast-acting inhalers. It is primarily used to make breathing easier for those who have sudden asthmatic symptoms, and it is often used on a long-term basis. Studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of albuterol for treating coughing since many causes of frequent coughing are similar to those for asthma. The results were promising, although it is still not generally prescribed for those who only exhibit coughing without other asthma related symptoms.

Most subjects who took part in one study noted that taking albuterol for coughing resulted in moderate relief of symptoms. More than half reported that they had at least some relief, and a few subjects noted a marked decreased in coughing symptoms. This study is not sufficient for recommendation of albuterol for coughing patients, however, since only nine participants were involved in the study. More widespread studies may be needed to determine if there is any real benefit in using the drug for this purpose.

The use of albuterol for coughing likely would not be effective at all in cases where coughing fits were not caused by airway constriction. Coughing due to colds, allergies, or influenza would likely not respond to this treatment, and patients are not advised to use their fast-acting inhalers for these purposes. And over the counter medication designed specifically to break up mucus would probably be more effective in these cases. Prescription drugs used for the same purposes are also available for severe cases of mucus production and related coughing.

Those who are using a fast acting inhaler containing albuterol or a similar drug may notice a decrease in coughing if this was a recurrent symptom. This drug is not prescribed as a treatment for coughing, although additional studies may be done to determine what aspects of the drug seem to alleviate coughing symptoms so that they can be used in another medication. Since studies so far have been so small, it is hard to say definitively how effective albuterol is at preventing or treating coughing symptoms.

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Discussion Comments
By anon330646 — On Apr 17, 2013

So this is pretty much useless for bronchitis.

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