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Salbutamol sulfate is a medication prescribed to treat symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. These symptoms include shortness of breath and wheezing. A doctor may also prescribe it to help prevent asthma symptoms before physical activity. This medicine is a bronchodilator that works by relaxing the muscles and helping the airways open to improve breathing. Salbutamol sulfate is the accepted name for this generic medication in many countries, including Japan; however, in the United States it is generally called albuterol.
This medicine is available in several different forms, including an aerosol inhaler, a syrup, and tablets. Adults will usually be prescribed the extended-release tablets every 12 hours, while the regular tablets may be taken three to four times daily. Dosage instructions for the syrup are generally the same as the regular tablets. Oral forms of this drug should be taken with plenty of water.
Patients who are using an inhalation device to receive salbutamol sulfate will need to prime the canister before the initial use. After shaking the device, a patient should pump it until it releases a spray of medicine. He can then insert it into his mouth, with his lips sealed around the device, and use the prescribed number of puffs. Deep breaths are required for this drug to work properly. The doctor may recommend that the patient use two puffs about 30 minutes before physical activity, if salbutamol sulfate is intended to help prevent asthma symptoms.
Some side effects may occur while using salbutamol sulfate, which should be reported to the doctor if they become severe. Patients may experience shaking or tremors, insomnia, and dizziness. Headaches, restlessness, and changes in appetite have also been reported. Other patients have noticed nervousness, muscle cramps, and nausea. In addition, those using the aerosol device may experience coughing and irritation or dryness of the mouth or throat.
More serious side effects require immediate medical care. These can rarely include problems breathing, difficulty swallowing, and a fever. Hoarseness, blisters or a rash, and swelling of the face or throat have also been reported. Other serious side effects include chest pain and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Very rarely, potentially fatal complications may occur, such as a worsening of breathing, which may cause sudden wheezing.
Before using salbutamol sulfate to treat breathing problems, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding must discuss possible risks with their doctors. Salbutamol sulfate may be contraindicated for use by those who have heart problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure. It may interact with other drugs, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), diuretics, and antidepressants.