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What Is the Difference Between Albuterol & Proventil?

By Megan Pratz ; Updated July 27, 2017

Albuterol is a medication for asthma and conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, according to PubMed Health. Proventil serves the exact same purpose and is, in fact, a brand name for albuterol inhalation drugs. Both medications have their benefits and drawbacks, depending on the condition.

Forms of Albuterol

Albuterol works by relaxing airways and opening air passages to allow the flow of oxygen. Typical albuterol takes a tablet, syrup or extended release tablet form, according to PubMed Health. The patient usually takes these forms three to four times a day, excepting extended release which they typically take once every 12 hours. Albuterol may help control symptoms of asthma or COPD, but it will not cure the condition.

Forms of Proventil

Proventil is a brand name for albuterol inhalation. It has the same medication as albuterol, but in a solution to inhale by mouth using either a nebulizer or as an aerosol for hand-held inhalers. Albuterol inhalation also helps for exercise-induced asthma. Patients can use the inhaled solution every four to six hours as needed in a nebulizer. Typically, they use hand-held inhalers as needed, and 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. Like non-inhaled albuterol, albuterol inhalation controls symptoms of asthma and COPD, but will not cure the condition.

Special Precautions

Because albuterol and Proventil are the same medication, they have the same special precautions. Before starting any medication, it is important to discuss allergies and other medications with your doctor, according to PubMed Health. Albuterol can also cause wheezing or heavy breathing. If this occurs, contact your doctor and do not use albuterol again without doctor permission. Also, notify your doctor about medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or stroke.

Side Effects

Again, because albuterol and albuterol inhalation (Proventil) have the same ingredients, the side effects are virtually the same. However, the inhaled medication may cause throat irritation or cough, which is not a side effect of the tablet or syrup. Other mild side effects include uncontrolled shaking, nervousness, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. The pill and syrup form of albuterol have exclusive side effects which include mood changes, nosebleed, changes in appetite and sleeping problems. Serious side effects, those for which you should contact your doctor immediately, include irregular heart beat; chest pain; fever; rash; hives; swelling of the face, hands or feet; difficulty breathing or swallowing; and hoarseness, according to PubMed Health.


Brand names of albuterol in tablet, syrup or extended release form include VoSpire ER (extended release). Albuterol inhalation can go by many names besides Proventil, including Accuneb, Proair and Ventolin.

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