How to Use Albuterol Inhalers: Easy to Understand Guide
Have you tried to buy or use an albuterol inhaler recently? If so, you know how complex the process can be. Between dosing, priming, cleaning, and using your albuterol inhaler safely and effectively, a lot is going on.
(And that’s assuming you can even afford your inhaler in the first place!)
In this comprehensive, easy-read guide to albuterol inhalers, we’ll discuss exactly how to use your albuterol inhaler, how often to use your albuterol inhaler, albuterol side effects, and more.
What Is Albuterol?
Albuterol is a prescription asthma medication. Doctors may also recommend it for other respiratory conditions – including emphysema, bronchitis, COPD, several lung diseases, and bronchospasm.
When patients are managing these conditions, they often have trouble breathing. They may also experience chest tightness, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. This can be frightening (and extremely dangerous), especially when it happens regularly.
Albuterol relieves these conditions by improving breathing and relaxing airway muscles. It generally provides relief within about 30 minutes of drug administration. When used properly, Albuterol’s effects can last six hours or more.
How to Use an Albuterol Inhaler? Your Inhaler Use Quickstart Guide
Albuterol is an inhaled medication. Since the medication needs to get to a patient’s respiratory system, breathing it in is the most direct route of administration.
To administer albuterol, patients use an inhaler. These devices make it relatively simple to get the correct dose of Albuterol.
Here’s a quick inhaler use guide – follow these steps to ensure efficient Albuterol administration:
- Start by removing the cap from the inhaler.
- Exhale fully.
- Put the inhaler's mouthpiece in your mouth and form a tight seal with your lips.
- Inhale deeply. At the same time, press down on the inhaler. This releases the aerosolized medication while you are breathing in.
- Hold your breath for about 10 seconds. (This gives the medication time to reach your lungs.)
If your doctor prescribes more than one dose, or one puff, of Albuterol, repeat the process as needed.
There’s one last step to remember! Rinse out your mouth after every time you use your inhaler. This can help prevent side effects of inhaler administration, including thrush.
How Often to Use an Albuterol Inhaler?
How often you use your albuterol inhaler depends on many factors – including what you use it for, your dosage, and your doctor’s recommendations.
Very simply: When you experience bronchospasm symptoms and need relief, you’ll use your albuterol inhaler.
Your doctor should be able to help you determine what is regular use for you. For example, adults usually take one puff of Albuterol every 4-6 hours. Children (between ages 4-11) will usually take one puff every 4-6 hours.
If you need to use Albuterol to relieve bronchospasms more often than that, talk to your doctor – they may recommend you use a stronger dose.
Although you should use Albuterol to breathe easier and relieve chest pain as needed, you don’t want to use Albuterol more often than necessary.
Overly frequent Albuterol administration can lead to unwanted side effects and symptoms (such as a rapid heartbeat and body tremors).
Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Using My Albuterol Inhaler?
Here are some final tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your albuterol inhaler:
- Check the dose counter – it’ll have your back if you forget how much you’ve used. Your albuterol inhaler should come with a dose counter that counts down how many remaining doses you have.
- If it’s been over two weeks since its last use, prime your inhaler! Shake the device up and down, spray away from your face, and repeat four times. HFA inhalers need this procedure to mix propellant and medication efficiently. If you don’t prime your inhaler, you might not get the right amount of medication with each puff.
- Clean your inhaler once per week with warm running water. This is hygienic, and it also helps prevent blockages and medication build-up.
How Much Do Albuterol Inhalers Cost?
We’ll go into more detail about each albuterol inhaler’s cost later in this guide, but we’ll provide some ballpark figures here first to help guide you in your search.
First, though, we should provide a couple of helpful definitions.
Are All Inhalers Albuterol Inhalers?
Short answer – no, not all inhalers leverage albuterol as an active ingredient.
Albuterol is a common and effective inhaled medication, but it’s not the only one. As you look for the right inhaler for you, you’ll see several other types of inhalers on the market, including:
- SABA inhalers, or short-acting beta-agonists, which include pirbuterol and levalbuterol
- LABA inhalers, or long-acting beta-agonists, which include salmeterol and formoterol
- Inhaled corticosteroids, which include fluticasone, budesonide, and beclomethasone
- Combination inhalers, which, as their name suggests, allow you to inhale a combination of inhaled medications at once
What Does HFA Stand For?
You’ll often see the letters HFA as part of inhaler brand names. The acronym has a two-for-one meaning: It can stand for hydrofluoroalkane or high-frequency aerosol.
“High-frequency aerosol” seems relatively self-explanatory. When you use inhalers, a fast-moving aerosol is the mechanism you leverage to get medicine into your lungs.
Hydrofluoroalkane is a propellant. In some inhalers, this substance is the driving force moving the medication in the right direction. In the past, inhalers have used chlorofluorocarbon propellants, but the industry has pivoted away from this option because chlorofluorocarbon has a harmful environmental impact.
Today, hydrofluoroalkane inhalers are relatively standard – so the distinction may no longer be necessary, but it’s still a part of many inhaler brand names.
The High Cost of Albuterol Inhalers
Albuterol inhalers retail between $117.00 and well over $500.00 in America.
(Canadian online pharmacies offer American patients a reliable way to save up to 76% on their albuterol inhalers – but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.)
Those numbers make one thing abundantly clear:
Inhalers are expensive.
Why is that?
Why are Inhalers So Expensive?
If you rely on an inhaler to breathe easily – a prerequisite for living – you might wonder why these life-saving devices are priced so high.
In America, inhalers are expensive for myriad reasons. These include:
- Patents. Many pharmaceutical companies have patents on their inhalers, giving them the sole right to supply that product. If their product is popular enough, the company can price it high to drive profit.
- R&D. Developing new inhalers requires time and money for good research and development. Pharmaceutical companies will shoulder this cost initially but then price their inhalers high to recoup that investment.
- Marketing. To sell products, manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies like to advertise. But unfortunately, advertising is expensive – so those costs get passed to you.
A generic version of an albuterol inhaler became available in early 2020 in the USA. (You can buy a generic albuterol inhaler through NorthWestPharmacy.com for a little over $20.00.) That has helped bring down the cost of some inhalers, but brand inhalers still have the edge over generic inhalers in terms of marketing and years of user experience.
Fortunately, if you require a lower-cost inhaler option, you’re in luck. It’s becoming increasingly common for American patients to send their inhaler prescriptions to Canadian pharmacies or international ones.
As a result, Canada pharmacy websites and international drugstores can offer reliably low prices on brand-name inhalers – allowing people living in the USA to save up to 76% on safe, high-quality inhaled medications.
What are Your Albuterol Inhaler Options? 2023 Guide to Popular Albuterol Inhalers
Albuterol is available under several different brand names, each bringing something slightly different to the table.
There are eleven different brand names and inhalers for albuterol. If you’ve just been diagnosed with asthma or are dealing with relatively new bronchospasms, that’s a lot to take in.
And it sparks a few highly relevant questions for people who need inhalers – for example:
Which inhaler is best for you? Which is easiest to use, what’s the difference between each – and which is the most cost-effective inhaler?
Here, we’ll discuss some of the most popular albuterol inhalers available through NorthWestPharmacy.com.
Ventolin HFA Inhaler
The Ventolin HFA Inhaler (albuterol) is an inhaler for patients experiencing COPD or asthma. Each inhaler holds about 200 doses or puffs. Since the usual dose is about two puffs every 4-6 hours to prevent expected bronchospasm or relieve current bronchospasm, one inhaler should last you at least a month.
Americans pay about $117.00 per inhaler. Through NorthWestPharmacy.com, you can buy one Ventolin HFA inhaler for around $27.00 – up to 76% in savings.
Combivent Respimat Inhalation Spray
Combivent Respimat Inhalation Spray (ipratropium bromide/albuterol) combines the airway-relaxing effects of albuterol with ipratropium bromide, an anticholinergic drug.
Anticholinergic drugs block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. This inhibiting activity reduces mucus production and inflammation in the airways. Less mucus and less inflammation result in easier breathing.
Together, these two active ingredients pack a powerful punch for people who require relief from the symptoms of COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or other respiratory challenges. After taking Combivent Respimat Inhalation Spray, you should feel relief in about fifteen minutes.
This fast-acting medication comes at a high cost. One Combivent Respimat inhaler can cost as much as $533.00 in the United States.
Alternatively, you can buy one Combivent Respimat inhaler for around $250.00 (up to 53% savings) through NorthWestPharmacy.com.
Combivent (ipratropium bromide/albuterol) is the same medication we discussed above, just with a different delivery system.
This inhaler uses a metered dose system instead of the Respimat device. Metered dose inhalers use a propellant, such as HFA, to deliver aerosolized medication.
The Respimat, on the other hand, is a soft mist inhaler. It delivers the medication in a slow-moving, very fine mist. For some people, especially people with respiratory challenges, that mist can be much easier to breathe.
As we saw, though, the Respimat device was costly. Combivent metered dose inhalers are a little more affordable – if you can find them. These inhalers can be difficult to find in the United States, as the Respimat device is more popular.
Through NorthWestPharmacy.com, you can buy one generic Combivent metered dose inhaler for around $40.00.
Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol) is an inhaler that uses an active ingredient similar to albuterol – but it’s not quite the same.
We mentioned above that, for some people, using albuterol inhalers can cause side effects of increased heart rate and shakiness. Usually, experimenting with different dosing strategies can help people circumvent these side effects, but this isn’t always the case.
If you need an alternative to Ventolin HFA with fewer side effects, Xopenex HFA is an excellent option. Levalbuterol’s chemical structure is very similar to albuterol; one is essentially the mirror image of the other.
Levalbuterol can provide the same bronchospasm-relieving effects as albuterol without the shakiness and increased heart rate.
American patients pay around $128.00 for one Xopenex HFA inhaler. Through NorthWestPharmacy.com, you can buy one generic Xopenex HFA inhaler for approximately $33.00 – up to 74% in savings.
Ventolin Nebulizer Solution
Much like Combivent Respimat delivers a fine, slow-moving mist with the same active ingredient as the Combivent metered dose inhaler, Ventolin Nebulizer Solution (albuterol) offers a gentler delivery of the same active ingredient available in the Ventolin HFA inhaler.
The Ventolin Nebulizer Solution comes prediluted. The mist it delivers is also much finer than the aerosolized spray of the HFA inhaler. Doctors often prescribe the Ventolin Nebulizer Solution to children with asthma or adults with significant respiratory challenges.
While it can be difficult to find this product in America, you can buy Ventolin Nebulizer Solution through NorthWestPharmacy.com for about $45.00 for a 50mL supply.
How to Use an Inhaler Correctly: Start By Buying One for Less
American prices for inhalers can be prohibitive. At our online and international Canadian pharmacy, you can rely on much more accessibly priced brand name and generic inhalers.
You can also expect great customer service, constantly-updated industry information, and secure, private payment processes.
Interested in learning more about how the team at NorthWestPharmacy.com can serve you?
Chat with our knowledgeable, friendly customer service team, or even discuss your medication with one of our pharmacists, by calling 1-866-539-5330. Learn exactly how to place your order online or over the phone, and check out our library of helpful prescription medication guides and related resources. Check out our online pharmacy’s customer reviews to see how we can help you save!
When you’re ready to purchase your albuterol inhaler, we’re ready to help you. The team at NorthWestPharmacy.com looks forward to supporting you and your healthcare journey.