Alternative Medications to Albuterol

Pretty blonde woman using her inhaler
Woman using an inhaler (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Albuterol is a bronchodilator that works to relax constricted air passageways to improve air access for people experiencing bronchospasm or suffering from obstructive airway disorders, according to Drugs.com. The medication is delivered through the use of an inhaler and albuterol can be blended with other bronchodilators to provide extended relief from symptoms. Due to the potential side effects of albuterol, patients may wish to explore some of the alternative medications to albuterol.

Short-Acting Beta-Agonist Inhalers

Short-acting beta-agonist inhalers are designed to relieve restricted airways within 5 to 15 minutes of use by relaxing the bronchial muscles, according to the Patient UK website. While albuterol itself is a beta-agonist inhaler, the Health Scout website notes that there are many other beta-agonist inhalers on the market that do not have albuterol as one of their active ingredients. In U.S. markets, these include bitolterol, isoetharine, metaproterenol, pirbuterol and terbutaline. These short-acting beta-agonist inhalers do not address the underlying causes of airway restriction, but merely address the presenting symptom of difficulty breathing.

Short-Acting Antimuscarinic Inhalers

Another way to get relief from bronchospasm or obstructive airway disorders is by using antimuscarinic inhalers, according to the Patient UK website. These inhalers provide the same kind of relief as albuterol in terms of widening airways, but are made from the chemical ipratropium. Individuals who aren't getting the relief that they need from beta-agonist inhalers may find that the switch to antimuscarinic inhalers gives them relief, though some patients like to have both on hand to ensure breathing can be restored. The Patient UK website also notes that the relief from an antimuscarinic inhaler lasts for the same amount of time as the relief from albuterol, about 3 to 6 hours, but that the inhaler may take 30 to 40 minutes to take effect.

Corticosteroid Inhalers

Patients who experience more regular flare-ups of their bronchospasm or obstructive pulmonary disease may be interested in corticosteroid inhalers. These inhalers provide the same breathing relief as albuterol, but can treat the underlying causes as well as the presenting symptom of breathing difficulty. According to the Health Scout website, this is because corticosteroid inhalers treat the inflammation in the bronchial tubes that causes airway restriction. The more common corticosteroid inhalers include beclomethasone, budesonide, ciclesonide, fluticasone and mometasone.

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