Ventolin is a reliever inhaler that can quickly stop asthma symptoms like coughing and wheezing.(34)
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Ventolin is a medication used to treat lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It gets to work within minutes, relaxing your airways which makes it easier to breathe. Its effects last for 3-5 hours.
Ventolin is the brand name for the generic medication salbutamol. It usually comes as an inhaler, but is also available as tablets, syrup, or a liquid that is breathed in through a nebuliser.
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Ventolin is a type of medication called a fast-acting bronchodilator. It relieves wheezing and chest tightness by keeping the airways open,helping air move in and out of the lungs. It is also known by the brand names Airomir, Asmalal, Easyhaler, Pulvinal, Salamol, Easi-Breathe, and Salbulin.
Ventolin is used to treat symptoms of chronic lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is known as a reliever because you use it to relieve symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough.
It can also be used to prevent symptoms by taking it before exercise or exposure to pets. You will probably be given another type of inhaler called a preventer, which you use every day to prevent symptoms from occurring.
Ventolin works by widening (dilating) and relaxing the airways making it easier to breathe in and out.
How quickly does Ventolin work?
Ventolin works very quickly (within a few minutes), and its effects last between 3 and 5 hours.
Before using your Ventolin inhaler
- Check that you have the correct medication, and it is within its expiry date.
- If it’s the first time you are using an inhaler, or if you haven’t used your inhaler for 5 days or more, you need to check it is working correctly. To do this:
- remove the cover from the mouthpiece
- shake the inhaler
- turn the inhaler away from you
- press the canister twice to release 2 puffs into the air
To use your Ventolin inhaler
- Shake your inhaler 4 or 5 times to make sure the medication is properly mixed.
- Use your inhaler in an upright (sitting or standing) position.
- Remove the cover from the mouthpiece.
- Check the mouthpiece is clean and free of objects.
- Breathe as slowly as you can, before using your inhaler.
- Hold the inhaler upright with your thumb on the base.
- Breathe out as far as is comfortable.
- Place the mouthpiece between your teeth and close your lips around it. Do not bite down on your inhaler.
- Breathe in through your mouth.
- Press down on the canister to release 1 puff of medication.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- If you are taking 2 puffs, wait about 30 seconds before taking the second puff.
- Always replace the mouthpiece cover after use.
How many puffs of Ventolin should I take?
The normal dose of Ventolin is 1 or 2 puffs whenever you have symptoms.
You can take a maximum of 4 puffs in 24 hours.
During a severe or sudden asthma attack, you can give yourself up to 10 puffs, but you must wait around 30 seconds and shake your inhaler between each puff.
Call an ambulance or go straight to hospital if:
- you are having severe difficulty breathing
- you have taken 10 puffs with no improvement in your symptoms
Always take any medication exactly as your doctor tells you. When taking a new medication for the first time read the patient information leaflet carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
When should I use my Ventolin inhaler?
Use your Ventolin inhaler when you feel symptoms like:
- chest tightness
- shortness of breath
You can also use your inhaler before you do something that may trigger symptoms such as before exercise or contact with pets.
How often should I take Ventolin?
Take your Ventolin inhaler as often as needed to treat symptoms of asthma. Talk to your GP if you need to use your inhaler:
- more than 4 times in 24 hours
- on more than 2 days each week
- during the night at least once a week
Using your Ventolin inhaler more often than is recommended may increase side effects like headaches, nervousness, and increased heart rate. It may also mean that your condition is getting worse, and your doctor may want to prescribe another medication.
How long does a Ventolin inhaler last?
One Ventolin inhaler contains 200 puffs. How long it lasts will depend on how often you use it. You can use your inhaler for up to 6 months after first opening it.
You should replace your inhaler when it is empty, or your medication has expired. Check the expiry date on the inhaler and dispose of it after this date.
Ventolin is highly effective at treating asthma symptoms when used correctly. If your Ventolin inhaler doesn’t help to relieve your symptoms talk to your GP. Asthma attacks can get worse very quickly. If your symptoms are severe and your Ventolin inhaler isn’t helping, call an ambulance or go to hospital immediately.
Ventolin is safe for most people including children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some people may need closer monitoring while taking Ventolin or may not be able to take it at all. Always tell your doctor about any health conditions or allergies you have as well as any other medications you are taking.
Do not take Ventolin if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to salbutamol sulphate or any of its ingredients
- go into early labour or have a threatened abortion (potential miscarriage)
Talk to your doctor before taking Ventolin if:
- your asthma is uncontrolled and active with frequent flare-ups
- you have an overactive thyroid
- you have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- you have heart problems such as an irregular or fast heartbeat or angina
- you are taking steroids or medications like theophylline to treat asthma
- you are taking diuretics (water tablets)
Can I take Ventolin while pregnant?
Yes. It’s safe to take Ventolin while you are pregnant. As Ventolin is an inhaled medication very little passes into your blood and it does not affect your baby. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Ventolin, ask your GP or midwife for advice on how to manage your asthma during pregnancy.
Ventolin is a generally safe medication, but like all medications, it can cause side effects in some people.
Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) side effects include:
- feeling shaky
Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people) side effects include:
- irritation of the mouth and throat
- muscle cramps
Rare (may affect up to 1 in 1000 people) side effects include:
- low levels of potassium in your blood—call your doctor or 111 immediately if you experience muscle cramps, irregular or fast heart rate, severe dizziness, or fainting.
- peripheral dilation (increased blood flow to your hands and feet).
Very rare (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people) side effects include:
- difficulty sleeping
- changes in behaviour such as restlessness and excitability
Stop taking your medication and see a doctor as soon as possible if:
- your breathing gets worse straight after using your Ventolin inhaler
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if:
- your heartbeat feels unusual such as fast, irregular, or beating more strongly than usual (palpitations)
Call an ambulance or go to hospital immediately if you experience:
- abnormal, fast, or irregular heartbeat with chest pain
- signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) such as swelling of the face, throat, and tongue, difficulty breathing, rash, blistered, swollen, or peeling skin.
For a full list of Ventolin side effects, read the patient information leaflet.
Are there any long-term side effects?
It is safe to use Ventolin for a long time and there is no evidence that this medication causes any long-term side effects when used correctly.
Some medications interact with each other, which may make them less effective or change the way they work. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about any other medications including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements before taking Ventolin.
Medications that may interact with Ventolin include:
- medications for a fast heart rate like beta blockers
- other asthma medications
If Ventolin doesn’t work well for you, talk to your GP as you may need to try a different type of inhaler.
Currently, there are 2 main bronchodilator inhalers available in the UK, salbutamol (Ventolin) and terbutaline (Bricanyl, Marex). Both work similarly and are equally effective in treating symptoms of asthma and COPD.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between salbutamol and Ventolin?
There is no difference between salbutamol and Ventolin. Salbutamol is the generic name for the medication and Ventolin is the brand name.
Is Ventolin a steroid?
No. Ventolin is a type of medication called a bronchodilator.
Can you buy Ventolin over the counter?
No. Ventolin is a prescription-only medication which means you can only get it with a prescription from a doctor. If you have been prescribed Ventolin before, you can buy Ventolin inhalers quickly and easily from Asda Online Doctor. Simply fill in a brief questionnaire for our doctors to review. If this medication is safe and suitable for you to take, we will deliver it to your home, or you can collect it from your nearest Asda pharmacy.
Can you get Ventolin on the NHS?
Yes. You can get a prescription for Ventolin from your GP on the NHS.
Does Ventolin cause weight gain?
No. There is no evidence that Ventolin causes weight gain.
Is Ventolin only used for asthma?
No. Ventolin can be used for other lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or exercise-induced bronchospasm.
How should I dispose of my Ventolin inhaler?
To protect the environment, don’t throw your Ventolin inhaler away with household waste. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of your old inhalers safely.
Can Ventolin damage my lungs?
A 2010 study by Leicester University found that using reliever inhalers such as Ventolin too frequently may worsen asthma. To avoid causing damage to your lungs, only use your medication when necessary and tell your doctor if you need to use it more often than usual.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 16 Sep 2021
Last reviewed: 17 Dec 2022
emc: Ventolin Evohaler 100mcg August 23rd 2021 (Accessed October 20th 2022)
NHS: Salbutamol inhaler December 14th 2021 (Accessed October 20th 2022)
Patient: Salbutamol inhaler June 8th 2020 (Accessed October 20th 2022)
NHS: Asthma overview 19th April 2021 (Accessed October 20th 2022)
UK Health Center: Expiration of the Ventolin Inhaler (Accessed October 20th 2022)
(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)
Asda Online Doctor by ZAVA offers reliever inhalers to help manage asthma and for effective relief from symptoms.