Albuterol is the medication used to open up the bronchioles. In 2009 all hand held inhalers changed the propellant from CFC to HFA. The HFA propellant is safer for the environment. The change in propellants stopped the manufacturing of generic inhalers, so all brochodilators went up in price. These inhalers carry 200 puffs each. There are five available and all have a brand name, since there are no generics: Proair®, Ventolin HFA®, Proventil HFA®, Xopenex®. Combivent®(combines albuterol with ipatropium bromide- a medication that can help dilate bronchioles and dry secretions). These inhalers should cost around $45.00, unless your insurance has you just pay your copay. If you have a high medication deductible or a high copay, ask the pharmacist for the cash price and tell him not to bill the insurance company, this may reduce the cost to $35.00.
Nebulized albuterol (used through a nebulizer or breathing machine) is sold as Albuterol (generic), Accuneb®, and Xopenex®.
These medications act on the beta receptors in the lungs. These receptors in the lungs are responsible for opening the bronchioles. Xopenex® is unique because it causes less shakiness and stronger dilation of the bronchioles. Unfortunately, it can cost more than other bronchodilators.
The benefit can last anywhere from four to eight hours. The use of a bronchodilator reveals that there is underlying inflammation in the bronchioles. The more a person needs the bronchodilator, the more inflammation is present.
A list of bronchodilators:
- Albuterol and Albuterol HFA
- Proventil HFA®
- Ventolin HFA®
- Combivent®(a combination of albuterol and Atrovent, which is ipatropium bromide)
- Xopenex® – available as a nebulized medication
- Atrovent ® is used to dry secretions but has some bronchodilator effects
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