Is Salbutamol dangerous?

An item from my search-engine slush-pile “Salbutamol dangerous”.

Assuming there’s a missing question mark, then no, it isn’t. Most people use the aerosol inhaler, and in this form it’s almost impossible to o-d on the stuff (respiratory consultant’s opinion, not mine). Not totally, but you have to make a serious and deliberate attempt to harm yourself for it to actually o-d..

I’ve used Salbutamol (Ventolin), for over 40 years, and for the first half of that period, I was a very active, rambling, backpacking, cycling, sea-angling, and it’s fair to say that my Ventolin inhaler got a hammering,every weekend and on holidays, but I never came to any harm.

I’ve also had a great deal of nebulised Ventolin. One 2.5mg nebule is 25 times the dose of one puff of the inhaler and, on one occasion, in the ICU with bacterial pneumonia, I was getting 2 nebules 5 times a day, plus my inhaler whenever I felt the need. So, you see, you can take a huge amount without harm.

Ventolin will cause an elevation it your heart rate, but my understanding of this is that it’s harmless – that’s what I’ve been told for over 40 years, anyway.

Ventolin should be taken at need – it’s a reliever inhaler – but it also has a prophylactic effect, and should be taken about 20 minutes before any expected exertion, as it takes that long to kick in.

On the other side of the coin, some people feel that Ventolin is ineffective. Assuming they have been correctly diagnosed, and actually have a need for it, that view is almost always down to the user expecting too much from it, and/or expecting immediate relief – which just isn’t going to happen Or not taking enough.

There is no such thing as a “correct” dose for Ventolin, as every person’s need is different. My advice would be to take in 20 minutes or so before rising, at need throughout the day (if you suffer attacks of breathlessness or coughing), and always 20 minutes or so before any exertion.

And I mean any exertion – you may feel it’s uncool to take it prior to sex, for example, but do it anyway, you’ll feel better for it.

If it’s still not working for you, get a referral to the chest clinic at your local hospital. Ventolin is the gold standard for bronchodilator inhalers (used in hospital spirometry testing, rather than generic versions, because generic versions, as I’ve been claiming for years, just aren’t as good, no matter what lies NICE tells you), so if you don’t respond to it, or respond inappropriately, then they can figure out why.

As for it being dangerous, though, no, absolutely not, unless radically abused.