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Is There a Connection between Albuterol and Weight Loss?

By Jennifer Voight
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The connection between albuterol and weight loss is fuzzy at best, and dangerous at worst. Albuterol is a drug that is used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Weight loss is a possible side effect of albuterol, but albuterol has never been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for losing weight. In fact, albuterol can cause unpleasant side effects when used for conditions other than asthma and COPD. Even if albuterol is connected to weight loss, it is a prescription medication and cannot be legally prescribed for any condition other than respiratory conditions in most regions.

Albuterol is a bronchodilator and central nervous system stimulant which may help explain how it increases the metabolism. It may also suppress the appetite. Some of the more common side effects of albuterol include cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms like increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and arrhythmia. Other side effects include restlessness, insomnia, and headache.

The link between albuterol and weight loss first became apparent when bodybuilders and wrestlers noticed that albuterol was similar in chemical composition to Clenbuterol, which bodybuilders have used for years to build muscle and increase fat loss. Once word spread, the use of albuterol for weight loss became more common within the bodybuilding and wrestling communities. Both albuterol and Clenbuterol are beta-2 andrenergic agonists, which can theoretically cause fat loss, but albuterol has a shorter half life. This means it leaves the body sooner, causing fewer side effects and making detection through drug tests less likely.

Even though no official studies have been performed, belief in the link between albuterol and weight loss persists. Using albuterol for weight loss could be dangerous since people who use it for this purpose use a higher dosage than is prescribed for respiratory conditions, increasing the chance of dangerous side effects. Until the link between albuterol and weight loss is researched and found to be safe, it’s best to avoid using albuterol for this purpose and stick to losing weight through eating less and increasing exercise.

Albuterol should not be taken by anyone who has an overactive thyroid or high blood pressure, since it can exacerbate those symptoms. The medication can also be harmful to people who suffer from diabetes and epilepsy, or anyone who has suffered a seizure. The drug can also cause problems if taken in conjunction with MAOIs, tricyclic antidepressants, or beta blockers. Albuterol can harm unborn babies and should not be used by any woman who could possibly be pregnant or who is breastfeeding since it's not known whether or not the drug is passed through breastmilk.

Does Albuterol Expire?

Like all other over-the-counter and prescription medications, your albuterol inhaler will come with a printed expiration date somewhere on the packaging. This is usually one year from the date of manufacture. Studies have shown that albuterol can sometimes maintain its shelf life for approximately one year after the printed expiration date, but this is not always the case.

How an inhaler is stored will affect how long it remains potent. Like most other medicines, albuterol should be kept in a dark, dry place, away from direct sunlight. The temperature should not be extreme, ideally somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The cap should be replaced snugly each time after use and the mouthpiece should be carefully cleaned at least once a week to prevent bacterial buildup.

Even under ideal storage conditions, it is possible that an albuterol inhaler can still lose its efficacy any time after the expiration date. It may not cause immediate harm to use an expired inhaler, but it may not be enough to keep asthma symptoms under control, which can be extremely dangerous in serious cases. To avoid these unnecessary risks, patients who use albuterol inhalers should have them replaced as soon as they expire.

Does Albuterol Help With Coronavirus?

Albuterol inhalers are designed to help with asthma symptoms by opening the airways to improve breathing. People who have asthma and have been prescribed an albuterol inhaler should have one on hand at all times, especially with the emergence of COVID-19. Coronavirus symptoms could trigger asthma problems in those diagnosed with this preexisting condition.

In some situations, a doctor may prescribe an inhaler to non-asthma patients who have serious cases of COVID-19. However, an albuterol inhaler may not help with all symptoms, including a cough or overall breathlessness. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for people with asthma to differentiate between symptoms.

If you have asthma and have tested positive for COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately so that they can offer guidance on how you should use your inhaler while you are sick. They can help you know how to safely monitor symptoms while using the right medications to protect your health. If you find yourself needing to use albuterol more than instructed, you should seek medical care right away to get control of your symptoms and ensure adequate oxygen intake.

How To Stop Albuterol Shakes

Albuterol can cause unwanted side effects in some people, including irritation of the nose or throat, headaches, and muscle aches. One of the most common side effects is tremors or shakiness. This is normal, harmless, and usually subsides within an hour or so after using albuterol. Even so, many people are made uncomfortable by this uncontrolled shaking.

What Causes Albuterol Tremors?

Albuterol is a bronchodilator. It helps to widen the airways and relax muscles in the lung, resulting in easier, clearer breathing in asthma patients. Albuterol contains epinephrine, a chemical that induces the fight or flight response as a method of survival in humans. This response increases heart rate and oxygen flow and can often result in shaking or tremors.

Tips for Reducing Shakiness

Even though albuterol tremors are not usually a cause for concern, there are ways to help shorten and alleviate these symptoms. If you are dealing with unwanted shakiness after using your inhaler, these tips may help:

  • Consider using a spacer to deliver your medication. This is a device that goes between the inhaler and your mouth and helps provide a more even and steady dose of medication. It also helps ensure that the albuterol reaches your lungs as intended, rather than becoming trapped in your mouth or throat.
  • Ask your doctor about reducing the dosage. If you are using two or more puffs of your inhaler when taking albuterol, ask if you can reduce the dose to a single puff instead. In some situations, you may not need as much medication to achieve the desired results.
  • Take steps to better manage your asthma. In general, most patients over the age of four can use albuterol once every four to six hours. If you find yourself waiting until you can take the next dose, you may need to try other treatment methods or lifestyle changes to get your asthma under control.

If making small changes does not improve albuterol tremors, or if they seem to worsen over time, talk with your doctor about other options that may be available to you to control your asthma. Remember, do not stop using your inhaler as instructed without talking to a doctor first.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments
By anon1004262 — On Dec 31, 2020

Alb does help with weight, increases muscle and don't neccesarily gives jitters.

By BillPharma15 — On Feb 06, 2014

I've used albuterol at 20mg a day and have so little hunger that I eat 500 calories a day. This is legitimate and I lost seven pounds so far in the last four days! Some don't experience a loss of appetite but I've tried several weight loss drugs beginning in the year 2000 and this is the best I've had by a large margin. It's a miracle drug if you ask me. I do experience side effects such as the jitters but this is well worth it considering the consequences of diabetes and heart disease.

By bear78 — On Dec 14, 2013

@fBoyle-- You're absolutely right. There is no evidence that albuterol helps with muscle building. It's used by athletes sometimes as a stimulant but research doesn't even show that it has benefits for performance.

I think the weak link between albuterol and weight loss was discovered by chance. It can't be used safely for weight loss because it takes high doses to see those effects. And high doses are sure to cause negative side effects like high blood pressure. It's not worth it.

By fBoyle — On Dec 13, 2013

@SarahGen-- You're right but I don't think that anyone is going to listen. There are still people who use albuterol while they are cutting to lose weight and fat more quickly. They are convinced that it works and I don't think they will leave it until they experience negative side effects.

I don't think that albuterol is as good as it seems for body building. It does help with weight loss but that's because it suppresses appetite. I was on albuterol for allergies for a short period and I did lose a few pounds. But I also lost muscle during that time, so I would not use albuterol for body building even if I was paid for it.

By SarahGen — On Dec 13, 2013

I have to take albuterol for asthma and I can't believe that people would willingly take this medication for weight loss when they don't even need it. I think that's silly and dangerous.

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