Albuterol is a medication called a bronchodilator. It is used in the treatment of asthma by relaxing the muscles that surround the airways, allowing them to open up more and make breathing easier. The effects of albuterol occur within minutes and typically last for four to six hours. Albuterol used in a nebulizer comes in a liquid form. The nebulizer turns the liquid in a fine mist, which is breathed in. This type of treatment allows for medication to reach the problems areas of asthma, namely the breathing passageways, quickly. Albuterol nebulizers are used three to four times per day, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Albuterol is a medication that treats the symptoms of asthma, but it is not a cure. It should be taken as directed by the prescribing physician. Treatments should not be stopped unless directed to do so by a physician, even if the symptoms clear up.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists suggests that for a first-time user of a nebulizer, the nebulizer should be used in front of medical personnel to that it can be used correctly. Even if the directions for use appear straightforward, the steps might be difficult to recall during an asthma attack.
Checking the Liquid
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists lists the steps for administering albuterol with a nebulizer. In preparation for taking a dose, a vial of the albuterol is taken from the pouch of vials. The vial's liquid should be checked to ensure it is a clear and colorless liquid. It should not be used if the liquid is not clear or has any color.
Preparing the Nebulizer
The top of the albuterol vial is twisted off, and all of the liquid in the vial is squeezed into the nebulizer's reservoir. The reservoir is then connected to the face mask or mouthpiece. These are variations in the design of the nebulizer. The nebulizer is then connected to the compressor.
Taking the Dose
If a mouthpiece is used, it is placed in the mouth. If it's a face mask, the face mask is placed over the face. The compressor is turned on, and the patient sits in a comfortable, upright position. The patient then breathes for 10 to 15 minutes, until the albuterol mist stops forming in the nebulizer chamber. Breaths should be deep and even. After the albuterol is used up, the compressor should be turned off.
Albuterol is also used as a medication to treat muscle paralysis for patients who have conditions causing attacks of muscle paralysis, not those with a permanent form of paralysis.