Ventolin Inhaler (Generic): Uses, Side Effects, Contraindications

Ventolin Inhaler is used to improve airway patency in people with asthma, allergies, and chronic lung conditions. This short-acting drug opens the airways in the event of an attack by causing the relaxation of smooth muscles. Ventolin is an essential medicine: in 2020, it was the seventh most commonly prescribed medication in the US with an estimated number of 62 million prescriptions.

Ventolin is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. It s pharmaceutical name is salbutamol or albuterol. With prices starting at $20 for an 8g supply, Ventolin is considered affordable, although generic versions can offer even a better deal. This drug can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. However, uncontrolled use of Ventolin can be dangerous if the underlying cause of the disease is not properly addressed.

Mechanism of action

Ventolin (albuterol) is a selective β2-adrenergic agonist. It affects the receptors of the bronchial smooth muscles, widens the airways, prevents and relieves bronchial spasms, and increases vital lung capacity. Its action begins 5 minutes after inhalation and lasts for 4–6 hours.


Bronchial asthma:

  • relief of symptoms,
  • prevention of attacks caused by allergens or physical activity,
  • as a part of long-term maintenance therapy.

Other chronic lung diseases associated with reversible airway obstruction, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

Ventolin should not be the sole or main component of asthma therapy. This medicine only stops attacks but does not address the disease. If someone with asthma uses 3 short-acting reliever inhalers in two months or less, it is necessary to visit a doctor and choose a more effective treatment to control the disease. If the usual dose of Ventolin becomes less effective or less prolonged (lasting less than 3 hours), the patient should consult a professional.


  • Hypersensitivity to any of the drug components;
  • Giving preterm birth;
  • The threat of abortion.

During pregnancy and lactation, Ventolin is prescribed only if the expected benefit for the mother outweighs the potential risk to the child. Salbutamol is likely to pass into breast milk and is therefore not recommended for lactating women. Currently, there is no data on whether salbutamol has a harmful effect on the fetus or newborn.

Ventolin should not be used with non-selective beta-blockers (propranolol). With thyrotoxicosis, it increases tachycardia. It also enhances the effect of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system; increases the likelihood of developing arrhythmias while taking cardiac glycosides. Ventolin is not contraindicated in patients taking MAO inhibitors. Theophylline and other xanthines, when taken together with Ventolin, increase the likelihood of tachyarrhythmias. Ventricular arrhythmias may occur when taken with inhalation anesthetics and levodopa. Intraocular pressure may increase when Ventolin is co-administered with anticholinergics. Glucocorticosteroids and diuretics can increase the hypokalemia caused by the use of Ventolin.


Ventolin is intended for administration by inhalation through the mouth. A spacer may be applied in patients who have difficulty synchronizing inspiration with using a metered dose inhaler. In children, it is advisable to use a pediatric spacer with a face mask. An increased need for short-acting inhaled beta2-adrenergic agonists to control asthma symptoms indicates an exacerbation of the disease. In this case, it is necessary to adjust the treatment plan.

Side effects

High doses of Ventolin can lead to serious adverse reactions; only a physician can decide whether to increase the drug dose or frequency of administration.

Ventolin can cause mild tremor, which is usually most pronounced in the hands and is a characteristic side effect of all β2-adrenergic agonists. Occasionally, patients have headaches, peripheral vasodilation, and a slight compensatory increase in heart rate.

Very rarely there are hypersensitivity reactions (including angioedema, urticaria, bronchospasm, arterial hypotension, and collapse), muscle cramps, and tachycardia.

Inhalation drugs can cause paradoxical bronchial spasms. Paradoxical bronchial spasms should be treated immediately with another formulation of salbutamol or another rapid-acting inhaled bronchodilator. Inhalators can cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and pharynx.

Therapy with beta2-adrenergic agonists sometimes causes hypokalemia, which can be a danger to the patient. Like other beta2-adrenergic agonists, Ventolin can occasionally cause mental agitation and increased motor activity in children.

In patients with a predisposition to the development of arrhythmias, Ventolin can cause cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, and extrasystoles.