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Can You Use Expired Albuterol

by Dan Hughes
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Can You Use Expired Albuterol

Can You Use Expired Albuterol

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of using a medication for asthma is probably how quickly we have to take our next dose. If you’re like most people with asthma, your doctor has instructed you to carry a rescue inhaler in case of emergency. And because your asthma could flare up at any time, you must always keep this handy device within reach. The last thing you want is to go through another attack before you get to take your prescribed medicine.
Inhalers are used primarily to deliver medications into the lungs where they will activate bronchial muscles causing them to contract, which opens the airways and allows fresh oxygen-rich air to enter. This action prevents the mucus in the chest cavity from being forced out by coughing or other methods. When inhaled properly, these drugs can help open and relax constricted air passages in the lungs and reduce inflammation, swelling, and mucus production. Inhaling beta-2 agonists such as albuterol (also known as Salbuteal) relieves lung inflammation while also relaxing smooth muscle tissue and opening the airway. These medicines work best when they are given early in response to an asthma attack.
Asthma affects more than 5 million Americans — mostly children — who suffer chronic breathing problems caused by inflamed bronchioles. Asthma sufferers experience difficulty in getting enough breath even though their lungs seem to produce plenty of mucus. Mucus causes the small airways to become plugged and restricts airflow, making the person wheezing short of breath. Asthma patients often need treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs, but there’s one problem — those drugs don’t work well if taken orally. That’s why doctors prescribe inhaled steroids instead. But sometimes these oral treatments aren’t good enough either because the patient’s condition worsens over time [sources: National Institutes of Health, CDC].
Albuterol (formerly known as metaproterenol), the drug found in many asthma inhalers, works directly on the lungs to dilate the tiny airways so that they can expand freely again. Doctors consider this type of asthma reliever the “gold standard” for controlling acute episodes due to its effectiveness and safety.
What Is Albuterol Used For?
How Does Albuterol Work?
Who Shouldn’t Take Albuterol?
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Albuterol?
Is There Another Way I Can Get the Same Effect From My Medication?
What Happens If Someone Has Been Using Their Albuterol Inhaler Longer Than They Were Supposed To?
What Is Albuterol Used For?
For decades, albuterol was only available as a prescription drug. Now, however, it’s easier than ever to obtain without a doctor’s supervision. Many pharmacies sell generic forms of the drug, which are identical to brand-name versions. Because of the high demand for albuterol, some unscrupulous individuals have been taking advantage of the situation by selling pills that appear to contain the active ingredient. While no one knows exactly how much albuterol has been sold illegally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that between 2000 and 2003, counterfeit albuterol accounted for nearly half of all seized pharmaceuticals.
While buying a fake version isn’t necessarily harmful, it’s important to know what albuterol treats and how it helps people with asthmatic conditions. Albuterol relaxes certain airways in the lungs, allowing better breathing during an episode. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t relieve symptoms completely, especially when someone already takes long-acting beta-2 agonist (LABA) drugs like formoterol to control asthma symptoms. LABA drugs improve overall performance by increasing sensitivity to nitric oxide, a naturally occurring chemical produced by the body that promotes relaxation of blood vessels and smooth muscle, including those located in the bronchial tubes.
When combined with corticosteroid drugs called SABA drugs, albuterol effectively reduces inflammation of the lungs, reducing the risk of infection and easing the recovery process. Combination therapy with albuterol and an LABA drug may increase the amount of symptom control achieved with each dose compared to taking separate inhalers.
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, ask your doctor about whether he or she recommends carrying an extra supply of your regular inhaler since you might run out unexpectedly. Also, make sure to check whether your insurance covers refills from expired prescriptions.
How Does Albuterol Work?
Albuterol stimulates adrenergic receptors on cells lining the walls of the bronchial tubes. Stimulation of these particular receptors opens the ion channels, which allow calcium ions to flow across the cell membranes. Calcium influx activates protein kinase A, which increases the concentration of cyclic AMP inside the cell. Cyclic AMP then binds to specific proteins known as cAMP responsive elements, CREs, which turn off inflammatory reactions associated with allergies and asthma.
Since asthma occurs when allergens trigger the immune system to release chemicals that cause inflammation, blocking the effects of those substances is key to treating the disease. By stimulating CREs, albuterol decreases inflammation. Researchers believe that this mechanism explains why albuterol is useful against both allergic and nonallergic asthma.
Taking the right combination of albuterol and an LABA drug seems to provide maximum benefit for people experiencing severe asthma attacks. Studies show that combining the two different classes of drugs not only improves asthma control, it can also decrease hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
A 2009 study published in the journal Chest suggests that women should avoid pregnancy while using albuterol. The reason? Pregnant women metabolize albuterol differently than others do. One possible result? Too little exposure of the fetus to the drug. Women shouldn’t try to conceive while using albuterol, nor should they breastfeed while taking it. Women who plan to become pregnant or who are breastfeeding should consult with their physician about alternative therapies.
Who Shouldn’t Take Albuterol?
You’re probably wondering if it’s OK to continue taking albuterol past the manufacturer-recommended date. After all, the product is still sitting on store shelves, and it looks just as new as it did on day one. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite as simple as that.
If you have any pre-existing health issues, talk to your doctor before starting to take albuterol. He or she will determine whether it’s a good idea for you. People with heart rhythm disorders should steer clear of taking albuterol as part of their daily medication regimen. Anyone else should consult his or her physician before beginning to take the drug.
It’s important to remember that older adults may react differently to albuterol than younger folks do. Older people tend to develop tolerance to the drug faster than younger users do. Some studies suggest that elderly patients respond better to albuterol when it’s administered every four hours rather than eight times per day.
Some people who take albuterol complain of side effects such as nausea, insomnia, restlessness, headaches, flushing of the face or neck, and dizziness. If these occur, lower the dosage gradually until the symptoms disappear. Other potential side effects include dry mouth, changes in vision, increased appetite, weakness, nervousness, and tachycardia, or abnormally fast heartbeat. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any sudden change in your physical appearance, mood, behavior, speech, ability to move around, or sense of touch. Your doctor may decide to stop administering albuterol if you experience any serious adverse reaction.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Albuterol?
Side effects vary according to age, sex, weight, and general health. Children under 18 years old should receive yearly medical exams while taking albuterol. Teenagers between 13 and 17 years old should discuss the benefits and risks of albuterol with their parents or guardians. Adults who take albuterol should tell their physicians about any unusual events such as fever, chills, cough, tightness in the chest, headache, palpitations (irregular beating of the heart), or rapid pulse.
People who take albuterol should drink alcohol cautiously. Although moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages does not pose any danger, consuming too much alcohol can lead to vomiting, drowsiness, slow heartbeat, or dehydration. Alcohol consumption should be avoided while taking albuterol. Drinking alcohol when you take albuterol can cause dangerous drops in blood pressure and increase the chance of fainting.
Smoking tobacco products makes your respiratory function worse, which means you’ll breathe less efficiently. Smoking cigarettes also damages the air sacs in the lungs. As a result, smokers who use albuterol should quit smoking before they begin taking the drug.
Other factors besides age, gender, and lifestyle affect how people react to albuterol. For example, people whose bodies are unusually sensitive to certain medications should speak to their doctors before using the inhaler.
Long-term use of albuterol poses few dangers, but

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