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Albuterol, also known by the name salbutamol, is a medication widely used to treat breathing problems, such as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It was discovered by a team in 1966 that was headed by David Jack, in England, and it was released in 1969 as Ventolin. Albuterol works by opening up the medium and large airways in the lungs by acting as a short-term β2 adrenergic receptor agonist that makes the smooth muscles of the airway relax. In some cases, it is also used to care for high potassium levels in the blood. Albuterol is commonly administered via nebulizer or inhaler. Once inhaled, the effects begin with 15 minutes and can last two to six hours.
In less common instances, albuterol is administered as an intravenous solution or pill. This is when the drug is used in the field of obstetrics to delay premature labor. In its IV form, albuterol may be used to relax the uterine smooth muscle as a totolytic. Acute hyperkalemia has been treated by albuterol because of the ay it stimulates the flow of potassium into cells, which lowers its level in the blood.
Generally, albuterol has been found to be well-tolerated and any negative effects are aligned with its pharmacological activity. How severe these effects are depend on how the drug is administered and the dosage. When given via a metered dose inhaler, there have been found to be less systemic effects than when higher doses have been administered by nebulizer or orally.