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Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 2 min read

Salbutamol, also known as salbutamol sulphate is the active ingredient in the “blue reliever” inhaler used to support respiratory conditions. It is also commonly known by the branded name Ventolin. This prescription-only medication can also come in tablet, capsule or nebules for people cannot use their inhaler as well.

Who is it for?

The primary use of salbutamol is to help relieve breathlessness in patients with respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD and is suitable for most adults and children. Triggers such as allergens and exercise can cause the airways to tighten, leading to breathlessness. This is when the inhaler is most required. Unlike other inhalers, salbutamol works with 5 minutes of inhalation, giving almost instant relief.

How does it work?

Salbutamol is a bronchodilator medicine, which means it expands the airways. Once inhaled, it is absorbed into the lungs, opening the air passages and improving airflow into the lungs leading to a reduction in breathlessness.

How to use salbutamol

Depending on which brand of salbutamol you may have, the instructions on how to use it may differ.

· For Ventolin, start by removing the cap and shake the canister gently.

· Hold the inhaler with your thumb on the base below the mouthpiece and your index finger on the top of the canister.

· Breathe out as far as is comfortable.

· Without breathing back in, place the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it.

· Breathe in through your mouth normally.

· Just before a deep breath, press down on the top of the canister and take a deep steady breath.

· Remove the inhaler from the lips and hold your breath for a few seconds, or as long as is comfortable.

· Allow for at least 30 seconds before you take another puff

Are there any side-effects?

As with all medications, there is the potential for serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction. You should stop taking salbutamol and seek urgent medical attention if you develop a skin rash, swelling of your tongue, mouth, lips, face or throat.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, low potassium or any queries before starting to use salbutamol, you should speak with your pharmacist or doctor.

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