Proventil HFA is one of the trade names for albuterol sulfate, also known as salbutamol sulfate. Albuterol is a bronchodilator that is used to prevent and treat bronchospasm in people suffering from reversible obstructive airway disease. The drug also helps to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm.
What is Obstructive Airway Disease?
Obstructive airway disease or obstructive lung disease is a name for respiratory diseases that make it difficult for the affected person to breathe properly due to the narrowing of airways and reduced exchange of gases in alveoli.
In a healthy respiratory system, alveoli (commonly called air sacs) are responsible for extracting oxygen from the inhaled air and supplying it to the blood vessels that run along with them as well as to take carbon dioxide from the blood and remove from the body during exhalation.
However, in people suffering from an obstructive lung disease, this process of exchange of gases gets affected because the alveoli do not receive a sufficient amount of air.
There are multiple underlying factors that can affect air flow and regular breathing pattern and it is on the basis of these factors that obstructive lung disease is divided into the following types:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
Symptoms of Obstructive Lung Disease
Shortness of breath is the key symptom of obstructive lung disease. At first, it only occurs during and/or after physical activity, but as the disease gets worse with time, the breathing problem can occur at any time, even while resting.
Some other symptoms that are common in all types of obstructive lung diseases include:
- Chronic cough that may also produce mucus
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Tightness in the chest
- Loss of energy
- Swelling in the feet and legs
- A bluish tint to the nail beds and/or lips
- Weight loss
- Feeling as if there is mucus in the back of the throat, especially after waking up in the morning.
The number and severity of these symptoms may vary across patients, depending on the type of obstructive lung disease they are suffering from and how much it has advanced.
Treatment for Obstructive Lung Disease
Since obstructive lung disease cause tightening of the smooth muscles that line the airways, which then leads to their narrowing, treating the disease involves using drugs that reverse this process of bronchospasm i.e. relaxes the muscles and expand the airways.
The medications that are used for this purpose are called bronchodilators. There are many different types of bronchodilators available and Proventil is one of them. These drugs are often prescribed along with certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and eating a healthy diet.
How Proventil HFA Helps With Obstructive Lung Disease?
Proventil HFA works the same way as other bronchodilators. However, what makes it different is that it affects the smooth muscles of all airways – from the trachea to the bronchioles. Also, it is effective against all spasmogens; substances that initiate spasms.
Clinical trials have also found that the effects of Proventil on the respiratory system are more pronounced than other bronchodilators, such as isoproterenol, and the side effects are fewer.
Limitation of Use
Proventil HFA cannot be used in children under four years of age.
Is Proventil HFA a Rescue Medicine?
Yes. Proventil HFA is a rescue medicine i.e. it is used to treat acute bronchospasm and flare-ups.
Proventil HFA is supplied in the form of an inhalation aerosol that has a dose indicator attached to it to help patients keep track of their dosages and prevent overdose.
One aerosol canister of Proventil HFA contains 200 inhalations and each actuation delivers 108 mcg of albuterol sulfate.
Recommended Dosage of Proventil HFA
Two inhalations taken after every 4 to 6 hours is the general recommended dose of Proventil HFA for the prevention of asthma symptoms as well as the treatment of acute flare-ups.
However, the dosage may vary, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient’s response to the medicine. One inhalation taken after every 4 hours is sufficient for some patients.
The general recommended dosage for preventing exercise-induced bronchospasm is two inhalations taken 15 to 30 minutes before exercise or a vigorous-intensity physical intensity.
How Long the Effects of Proventil Last?
The effects of albuterol sulfate last for about four to six hours.
Things to Remember While Using Proventil HFA Inhaler
Here are a few things that you should know and follow while using this bronchodilator:
- Just like all other sprays, prime the Proventil HFA inhaler before using it for the first time, when it is not used for more than two weeks, and if it has been dropped.
For those who do not know, priming the inhaler means shaking the canister well and then spraying it in the air for four times (make sure the mouthpiece is away from your face).
- Wash the mouthpiece of the inhaler at least once a week to prevent the medicine from building-up and blocking the passageway. Make sure to air dry the mouthpiece completely before using it again.
- Shake the inhaler well before every use.
- Only use the inhaler with the actuator that comes with it.
- Do not allow young children to use Proventil HFA, or any other inhaler, on their own as they can mistakenly overdose.
- Throw away the canister when the dosage indicator shows zero, even if it is not completely empty.
- Store the of Proventil HFA inhaler with the mouthpiece down.
- Do not expose the inhaler to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit as they may cause the canister to burst.
- Do not puncture or burn the canister.
- The medicine works best at room temperature, so store the canister at room temperature, ideally between 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 25 degrees centigrade).
What to Tell Your Doctor before Taking Proventil HFA?
While it is common knowledge that you shouldn’t use of Proventil HFA, or any other medicine, if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, there are some other factors that should also be considered to determine if albuterol is safe for you. And your overall health comes at the top of this list.
Make sure your doctor knows about any other health conditions you may be suffering and any medications you may be taking; prescription, non-prescription, herbal, and/or dietary supplements. In particular, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:
- Any type of arrhythmia; heart rhythm disorder
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Any disease that causes seizures, such as epilepsy
- Overactive thyroid
- Low blood potassium levels
The effects of Proventil HFA on the fetus are not known. Therefore, it is recommended that your doctor knows if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, so any precautionary measures, if needed, can be taken. Your doctor may also suggest you register your name in a pregnancy registry the effects of albuterol on the fetus can be monitored and tracked.
It is also not known if albuterol sulfate taken through an aerosol inhaler passes into breast milk or if it can cause any harm to the nursing baby. Therefore, make sure to discuss with your doctor if it is safe to breastfeed while using Proventil HFA.
Possible Side Effects of Proventil HFA
Although Proventil HFA is a highly effective medicine for treating and preventing bronchospasm associated with any obstructive lung disease, some people may experience a few adverse effects with its use.
Here are some of the common side effects of Proventil HFA:
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Back pain
- Body aches
- Sinus pain
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Shaking or trembling of hands, arms, legs, and/or feet
Serious Side Effects of Proventil HFA
While the chances are rare, Proventil HFA may cause some serious side effects in some patients. To be on the safe side, watch out for the following effects while you are taking the medicine (at least until you know how it affects your body) and call you doctor immediately if you experience any of them:
- Wheezing, choking, or any other breath problem after using the medicine
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Fluttering in the chest
- Chest pain
- Low blood potassium level – symptoms include extreme thirst, tingling or numbness, irregular heartbeat, fluttering in the chest, increased urination, muscle weakness, leg cramps, and/or constipation.
- High blood sugar level – signs include increased thirst and urination, dry mouth, blurred vision, drowsiness, hunger, fruity breath odor weight loss, and/or dry skin.
Possible Drug Interactions
As mentioned above, it is highly important that your doctor knows about all the medicines that you are taking because Proventil HFA can interact with some other drugs and cause negative effects.
Here are some of the medicines that are known to interact with or alter the effects of Proventil:
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), such as methylene blue injection, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, linezolid rasagiline, tranylcypromine,and
- Beta-blockers, such as labetalol, atenolol, metoprolol, carvedilol, sotalol, and propranolol.
- Antidepressants, including, but not limited to desipramine, doxepin, amitriptyline imipramine, and nortriptyline.
- Diuretics, commonly known as water pills.
- Any other bronchodilator or inhaled medicine.
Prescription Assistance for Proventil HFA
Proventil is one of the most commonly prescribed inhalers for the treatment and management of obstructive airway diseases, like asthma and COPD, because of its effectiveness. However, the drug is out of reach for a large number of patients due to its high price – the price for one Proventil HFA inhaler is about a hundred dollars. What makes the situation even worse is that there is no generic alternative medicine available for it.
If you are also one of those countless people who are prescribed Proventil by their doctors, but cannot afford to buy it, we have good news for you. There are some ways for you to get this medicine at low cost; thanks to the prescription assistance program run by the company that manufactures the drug.
Known as Merck Helps, the patient assistance program provides a number of Merck medicines at discounted rates or free of cost to the eligible patients – Proventil HFA is one of them.
Want to know if you are eligible for the Merck Patient Assistance Program?
Visit Merck Helps website to check out the eligibility criteria and to know how you can apply for it.
Don’t lose hope in case you don’t qualify for the assistance program offered by Merck & Co. You can get the inhaler at reduced price with a GoodRx Coupon. Click here to get the discount coupons for Proventil, for different pharmacies.