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Side Effects of Albuterol: How To Avoid Them

If you’re like me, you know the side effects of albuterol (also called ventolin) all too well.

That’s because if you’re like me, you’ve probably gone through long periods of time using your asthma rescue inhaler incorrectly.

In fact, some research shows that anywhere from 60-70% of all asthmatics do not take their rescue inhalers as prescribed by their doctors. This usually means people are taking their rescue inhalers way too much, like I used to.

But what does it actually mean to overuse a rescue inhaler? What are the side effects of taking too much ventolin or albuterol? And more importantly, how can you avoid it? I did the research – let’s just into what I learned.

What Are The Side Effects of Albuterol?

Cutting right to the chase, research shows that there are long term, negative side effects to using your ventolin/albuterol (or salbutamol) rescue inhaler too much (source).

Some of these side effects can be felt right away, such as an itchy throat or a slight feeling of lightheartedness. These immediate effects are mostly just annoying.

But more serious side effects come from prolonged usage.

And it’s these long term side effects that you need to be concerned about if you feel you are abusing your rescue inhaler. These effects can include:

  • Nervousness
  • Shakiness
  • Throat irritation
  • Nasal irritation
  • Muscle aches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • None of these sound fun!

These may sound like vague symptoms, but they are serious and can lead to all sorts of cardiovascular complications or worse down the road if left untreated. They’re why you should try to get your ventolin/albuterol rescue inhaler overuse under control, like I did.

Another, less-discussed aspect of ventolin/albuterol abuse is something I’ve written about at length. That is, ventolin overuse leads to needing more ventolin.

Whether it’s the psychological feeling of dependence, using it as a stress reliever, or simply your throat feeling more irritated and therefore more prone to asthmatic episodes, using your rescue puffer too much will inevitably lead to you using it even more.

Talk about a viscous cycle.

The reasons for this might be more psychological than physiological, but it is what it is. If you’re using your rescue inhaler too much today, you’re likely to be using it even more in the future – unless you get it under control (don’t worry – there’s hope!).

How Much is Too Much Albuterol/Ventolin?

traditional albuterol inhaler

The maximum daily dose of ventolin/albuterol is 8 puffs per day for adults and 4 puffs per day for children (source), but DO NOT get this confused with the recommended dose. This dosage is only appropriate if you’re having an acute attack or other illness and is only meant to be temporary.

(Also, of course please note that I’m an asthmatic, but not a doctor – talk to your doctor about your proper dosage). 

In terms of how much ventolin/albuterol you SHOULD be using, the general rule of thumb is that if you’re reaching for your rescue inhaler more than 3-4 times per week, then you’re using it too much.

So if you’re coming anywhere near maximum dosage, you should talk to your doctor. He or she will likely prescribe a maintenance inhaler that can drastically reduce how much you need your rescue inhaler.

However, that still means that you will likely need to take that new inhaler 1-2 times per day (as directed by your doctor) for it to work.

So if your goal is to reduce the amount of medication you’re taking period, you’ll want to focus most on lifestyle changes.

How To Use Less Ventolin/Albuterol

If you want to avoid the side effects of overusing your rescue inhaler, then the best way is to simply take it less. But trust me – I know that is easier said than done. I used to take my puffer multiple times a day, and I’d even wake up at night needing it. If I can quit it, anyone can.

You basically just need to improve your overall health and your cardiovascular health in particular. I outlined exactly how I beat my puffer addiction here: 6 Easy Steps To Stop Taking Your Albuterol.

If you take those steps and combine them a few other lifestyle tips outlined in the articles below, you should be on your way:

Learn More About Your Ventolin Addiction

Get a Healthy Diet For Athma

How To Stop Breathing Through Your Mouth (And Why It Matters)

Try These Awesome Herbal Teas For Asthma

Explore the Buteyko Method (eye-opening!)

Make Sure You’re Breathing Clean Air (so important)

Yes, CBD Can Help Your Asthma, Too

Get In Shape – Without Wheezing At A Public Gym!

I firmly believe that everyone can overcome the side effects of albuterol or whatever rescue puffer they’re using. It takes some time and a little work, but at the end of the day, you’re going to breathe better and feel better. So worth it!

Worried about coping with your new diagnosis? Don’t worry – I’m here to hold your hand!

Sick of taking your inhaler SO much? Ventolin abuse is real – and you CAN beat it.

There’s no cure for asthma, but there’s so much we can do to get our symptoms under control.

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