Patients' inhaler technique should be checked to make sure that aerosol actuation is synchronized with inspiration of breath for optimum delivery of drug to the lungs. Patients should be warned that they may experience a different taste upon inhalation compared to their previous inhaler.
Bronchodilators should not be the only or main treatment in patients with severe or unstable asthma. Severe asthma requires regular medical assessment, including lung-function testing, as patients are at risk of severe attacks and even death. Physicians should consider using the maximum recommended dose of inhaled corticosteroid and/or oral corticosteroid therapy in these patients.
The dosage or frequency of administration should only be increased on medical advice. If a previously effective dose of inhaled salbutamol fails to give relief lasting at least three hours, the patient should be advised to seek medical advice.
Increasing use of bronchodilators, in particular short-acting inhaled beta 2-agonists, to relieve symptoms, indicates deterioration of asthma control. The patient should be instructed to seek medical advice if short-acting relief bronchodilator treatment becomes less effective, or more inhalations than usual are required. In this situation the patient should be assessed and consideration given to the need for increased anti-inflammatory therapy (e.g. higher doses of inhaled corticosteroid or a course of oral corticosteroid).
Severe exacerbations of asthma must be treated in the normal way.
Cardiovascular effects may be seen with sympathomimetic drugs, including salbutamol. There is some evidence from post-marketing data and published literature of rare occurrences of myocardial ischaemia associated with salbutamol. Patients with underlying severe heart disease (e.g. ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmia or severe heart failure) who are receiving salbutamol should be warned to seek medical advice if they experience chest pain or other symptoms of worsening heart disease. Attention should be paid to assessment of symptoms such as dyspnoea and chest pain, as they may be of either respiratory or cardiac origin.
Salbutamol should be administered cautiously to patients with thyrotoxicosis.
Potentially serious hypokalaemia may result from beta 2-agonist therapy, mainly from parenteral and nebulised administration. Particular caution is advised in acute severe asthma as this effect may be potentiated by hypoxia and by concomitant treatment with xanthine derivatives, steroids and diuretics. Serum potassium levels should be monitored in such situations.
Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines: None reported.
Use in Children: The safety and effectiveness in children 4 years of age and older has been established based upon two 12-week clinical trials in patients 12 years of age and older with asthma and one 2-week clinical trial in patients 4 to 11 years of age with asthma.
Results from the 2-week pediatric clinical study in patients with asthma 4 to 11 years of age showed that this pediatric population had an adverse reaction profile similar to that of the adolescent and adult populations.
Use in Elderly: Clinical studies did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.