Ventolin Side Effects and Precautions
Ventolin, for all the good it does for asthmatics, also comes with its fair share of side effects.
The most common side effects include:
- Throat irritation
- A cough
These side effects are not supposed to endure for long and if they do, you should contact your medical practitioner at once.
You may also suffer from escalated blood pressure after taking a dose from your Accuhaler or Evohaler, which is why you should regularly check your blood pressure while on this medication and consult with your doctor if you experience any symptoms of hypertension or get a worrisome reading from the meter.
If you experience symptoms, such as an irregular heartbeat, confusion, shallow breathing or chest pain you should get medical assistance at once. In a very small number of cases, there may be a sudden aggravation of asthma, characterized by wheezing and coughing – this is known as paradoxical bronchospasm and is a known side effect of taking this medication. Seek medical attention without delay in such an event.
It is improbable to experience a serious allergic reaction due to the consumption of this medication, but it is possible nonetheless. Therefore, you should get to a doctor at once if you experience itching, swelling, rashes, extreme dizziness or breathing difficulties. Normally a response such as this can be avoided if you discuss any history of allergy in your family with the doctor before they have prescribed you this medicine.
It is crucial that you inform your asthma nurse about any prior medications you are on as well as any allergies or medical conditions you have, before starting on your Ventolin prescription. For women, you must let the medical expert know if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. All these will factor into deciding your prescribed dosage and indeed whether you should be given Ventolin at all.
Here are some specific precautions for using your Evohaler / Accuhaler:
- For asthmatics: If your prescribed dosage doesn’t appear to have an alleviating effect on your symptoms, or if you have to use it more frequently to achieve the same, it could be an indication that your asthma is worsening. Contact your doctor as soon as possible.
- For diabetics: Those who are administered Ventolin via nebulizer may experience elevated levels of blood sugar. Diabetics should explicitly discuss with their medical practitioner if there are chances of an escalation due to Ventolin consumption. Typically, you may be required to have your condition monitored, or the dosage may be altered.
- For heart patients: This medicine can have side effects, such as an irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, so those who suffer from an existing heart condition are advised to use it with caution and only according to a doctor’s prescription and with regular examination.
- Reduced blood potassium levels: Ventolin can bring down the level of potassium in your blood, which in turn can cause muscle cramps, nausea, tiredness or weakness. Let your doctor know if you experience these symptoms so they can take remedial steps.
- Troubled breathing: As mentioned before, some individuals may experience breathing difficulties after using this medication. Discontinue use if this occurs and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Seizures: Asthma patients with a history of seizures should carefully discuss this with their doctor before starting on Ventolin, since the medication has been known to increase the likelihood of a seizure.
- Thyroid disease: Using an Evohaler/Accuhaler can make the thyroid gland more active, which can cause complications for those who suffer from hyperthyroidism. This again necessitates caution when consuming this medication, as well as regular checkups by your doctor.
- Dizziness: Some patients may experience dizziness while using Ventolin, which is why it is recommended that you avoid activities that require continuous focus (e.g. driving, cycling, and sports), until you’re familiar with the effect this medicine has on you.
- Albuterol and weight loss: Due to the stimulating effect Ventolin has on the individual’s heartbeat and blood pressure, it is employed by some individuals for the express purpose of losing weight. There are a number of bodybuilding websites with instructions (based on trial and error rather than scientific knowledge) on how to use it to this end.
This is an extremely dangerous practice, a fact that is emphasized by the FDA’s non-approval of Ventolin’s use for weight loss. In short, if you’re not an asthma or COPD patient you should not be using this medicine. Prolonged use can result in adverse effects, such as heart attack or stroke, even for those who do have asthma; risking this without having the condition is reckless.
Before you begin to take your Ventolin medication you must explicitly discuss with your medical practitioner any prescription, non-prescription, recreational, illegal, herbal or nutritional drugs that you’re consuming, in particular:
- Beta-blockers, e.g. propranolol, nadolol, metoprolol, labetalol, atenolol.
- Digoxin (aka Lanoxin)
- Epinephrine (aka Primatene Mist, EpiPen)
- Prescription or over the counter medicines for dealing with cold.
- Other inhaled medicines for relaxing the passageways of the lungs, e.g. Xopenex and Alupent.
You must also inform the doctor if you are or have recently (around a fortnight) been consuming the following medicines:
- MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors), such as phenelzine, isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine or selegiline.
- Anti-depressants like Surmontil, Vivactil, Aventyle, Pamelor, Tofranil, Adapin, Sinequan, Norpramin, Anafranil, Asendin and Elavil.
If you are presently taking any of the medicines mentioned above, your doctor may decide to stop you from taking them in favor of Ventolin. Conversely, the opposite may also happen. The doctor may allow you to carry on with both medicines after altering their dosage. In certain cases you may even be allowed to continue taking your existing medication alongside Ventolin. The medical expert will base their decision on the pros and cons of both medicines for you and whether you’ll be able to manage taking both of them at the same time.