If your child was prescribed albuterol for asthma or another respiratory condition, here’s what you need to know about the medicine.
The bronchial tubes, the tubes leading to the lungs, are supposed to be open and relaxed, but many children have illnesses that cause the muscles around the bronchial tubes to squeeze tight and restrict airflow. Because this makes it more difficult for kids to get air in and out, children experiencing this problem will wheeze or cough.
Albuterol is a prescription drug that is used as a “bronchodilator,” meaning that it opens up the bronchial tubes to allow air to flow in and out easily. Albuterol alleviates these symptoms by relaxing the muscles around the airways. Your child’s pediatrician may prescribe albuterol for a variety of breathing problems, including asthma and allergy-related wheezing. If you’re a parent of a child with asthma or another respiratory issue, here’s what you can expect when your child is using albuterol:
Dosage and Side Effects of Albuterol
Typically, a pediatrician will recommend that you administer albuterol for every four to six hours for as long as it’s needed. If your child has an acute illness, this may take about a week. If your child has allergies or a chronic illness like asthma, your doctor may recommend that you administer albuterol any time he or she is exposed to a wheezing trigger. Unlike some other medications, it is generally safe to use albuterol as needed; there is no weaning period.
Most children experience few or only very mild side effects when using albuterol. The most common side effects include rapid heartbeat, flushing, or jitteriness, which can present as hyperactivity in some children. For most children, these side effects will wear off in under 15 minutes. If they persist for significantly longer, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your pediatrician, especially if the symptoms make you reluctant to administer the medicine.
Albuterol can be inhaled or consumed in liquid form. In general, liquid albuterol is used for infants, but it doesn’t provide as much relief as inhaled albuterol and may have more intense side effects. Most doctors will recommend inhaled albuterol for a wheezing child, which can be administered via inhaler, inhaler and spacer, or nebulizer.
Albuterol Administration Methods
- Inhaler: Inhalers are the most common means of administering albuterol. Typically, an inhaler will be shaped like a boot; one end will be a mouthpiece and the other end contains a canister of medicine. Patients deliver a dose of medication by pushing down on the canister or by breathing in, depending on the type of inhaler.
When used correctly, albuterol can provide enormous relief for children who are struggling with asthma or other breathing issues. If your child is wheezing, coughing, or showing signs of chronic respiratory distress, contact Kids’ Health to schedule an appointment.