Albuterol is an inhaled medication that dilates the bronchiole air tubes in the lungs 1. This bronchodilator is given in a metered dose inhaler and used to relax muscles in the airways and increase the flow of oxygen into the lungs. Drugs.com notes that albuterol is also used to prevent spasms of the bronchioles in individuals with asthma, allergy-related asthma and other reversible obstructive lung diseases 1. Like all medications, albuterol can cause unwanted side effects in some patients 12. There have been reports of side effects in toddlers and young children that use albuterol to decrease asthma symptoms 12.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
MayoClinic.com reports that some parents of children that are taking albuterol for mild allergy-related asthma and other breathing problems 12. Toddlers and young children aged four and below are reported to experience side effects of albuterol including mood changes that are noticeable to the parents 12. These effects include irritability, loss of focus and concentration and becoming withdrawn from other children, parents and daily activities. In some cases nervousness and confusion may also result. In most cases these side effects diminish over time or by decreasing the dosage of albuterol 12.
Albuterol Side Effects in Children
Toddlers, young children and other patients taking albuterol can suffer from allergic reactions that require urgent medical care 1. If any of these side effects occur, the dosages should be ceased and immediate medical care sought.
Other Side Effects
- chest tightness
- chest pain
- hypertension or high blood pressure
- tachycardia or a fast heart rate
These serious effects should be reported to the prescribing doctor immediately. Other more common side effects include
- muscle tremors
- excessive thirst
- increased urination
- leg discomfort
- muscle weakness
- dry mouth
- a sore throat
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- Drugs.com: Albuterol
- MayoClinic.com: Albuterol Side Effects
- MedlinePlus. Albuterol oral inhalation. Updated February 15, 2016.
- Colice G, Calhoun WJ. Section 2. Exercise-induced bronchospasm: Albuterol versus Montelukast: Highlights of the Asthma Summit 2009: Beyond the guidelines. World Allergy Organ J. 2010;3(2):23-30. doi:10.1097/WOX.0b013e3181d25eac
- Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Don't confuse "rescue" and "maintenance" inhalers. Updated June 6, 2011.
- American Lung Association. Assess and monitor your asthma control. Updated February 28, 2019.
- American Association for Respiratory Care. Pulmonary disease aerosol delivery devices. Updated 2017.
- Prescribers' Digital Reference. Albuterol sulfate - drug summary.
- American Lung Association. Severe asthma. Updated January 13, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consumer Information. Asthma: General Information.
- MedlinePlus. Albuterol Inhalation.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.