Atrovent vs Albuterol: Must Read the Comparison

Asthma Health News

Doctors prescribe an inhalation medication to prevent or treat bronchospasm- the narrowing of the airways. The two inhalation medications most recommended to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma patients are Atrovent vs Albuterol.

In this article, we will be comparing Atrovent and Albuterol in detail. It is important to review the comparisons of the medications and find out which will be more effective and best for your case. Next are side-by-side comparisons of the Atrovent and Albuterol use, side effects, dosage, cost, interactions, and alternatives. As per the average rating for both drugs, Atrovent is relatively highly rated and more recommended than Albuterol today. Still, Keep reading to make a well-informed selection of medication.

Atrovent Vs Albuterol:

Atrovent Vs Albuterol

Atrovent (ipratropium bromide) is a prescription inhalation aerosol in the pharmacological class, anticholinergic bronchodilator. It helps ease breathing difficulty by relaxing the muscles of bronchial tubes, widening the airway, and reducing mucus secretion in the respiratory system.   

Albuterol is a prescription inhalation medication in the pharmacological class, adrenergic bronchodilator. It is a beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonist that works to relax airway smooth muscles and inhibit the hypersensitivity reactions in the bronchial airway.

Atrovent and Albuterol Uses:

Atrovent got its first FDA approval in 2004 for maintaining bronchospasm in COPD patients including those with respiratory conditions- emphysema and bronchitis.

In contrast, Albuterol is a much older medication known for various indications. It has been available in the pharmacies for more than 4 decades. The drug got its first FDA approval in 1981 for helping asthma patients and other patients with lung conditions like certain COPD conditions that cause breathing issues. It has proven effective in treating acute asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchospasm prophylaxis, and COPD as well as maintaining asthma, COPD, and COPD-acute asthma. It can even help prevent exercise-induced asthma when taken before or during a workout.

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Side Effects:

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Side Effects

Here is a comparison of Atrovent and Albuterol’s common and serious side effects.

Common Side Effects:

Usually reported side effects of using Atrovent may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bitter taste
  • Nausea, constipation, or upset stomach
  • Cold-like symptoms such as sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, and sneezing
  • Cough with mucus, or hoarseness
  • Sinus pain.

Albuterol commonly causes the following side effects:

  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat
  • Cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat.

Serious Side Effects:

Atrovent may cause the following serious Side Effects:

  • Worsening of commonly reported side effects
  • Signs of allergic reactions like facial swelling, itching, troubled swallowing or breathing, hives, and rashes
  • Increased eye pressure leading to or worsening glaucoma.

Albuterol may cause the following serious side effects:

  • Dry mouth and dry skin
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Weight loss
  • Drowsiness. 

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Dosage:

Atrovent comes packed in an inhaler. Its suggested initial dose is 2 inhalations (17 mcg ipratropium bromide per inhalation) four times daily. The maximum recommended dose is 12 in 24 hours.

On the other hand, the usual dose of Albuterol is 2 inhalations every 4-6 hours or 15-30 minutes before going for exercise. Per inhalation 90 mcg of the medication is administered through the nasal route. 

Atrovent and Albuterol Cost:

In general, the price of any medication varies for different patients as the cost depends on certain factors. The cost-deciding factors include:

  • The treatment plan of the patient
  • The prescribed dosage or supply amount
  • The pharmacy chosen to buy the medicine
  • Insurance coverage (if any).

For a supply of 12.9 grams of Atrovent inhalation aerosol, the Atrovent cost is around $507. A generic, cheaper version of Atrovent still needs to be made available.

Albuterol Cost is comparatively low-priced. The medication is also available in its cheaper, generic form. 

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Interaction:

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Interaction

Some of the drugs known to interact with Atrovent include:

  • Medications that treat Parkinson’s disease. This includes Levodopa/Carbidopa, Pramipexole, and Ropinirole (Requip).
  • Medications are prescribed for the treatment of overactive bladder. It includes drugs Oxybutynin, Solifenacin, and Detrol.
  • Cold or allergy-related drugs like Diphenhydramine, Cetirizine, and Fexofenadine.
  • Another medication belonging to the bronchodilator class of drugs like Salmeterol and Formoterol. 
  • Medications to treat anxiety, depression, mental illnesses, or mood disorders. It includes Fluoxetine and Sertraline.
  • Medication like Meclizine, Scopolamine, and Dicyclomin to treat motion sickness, stomach issues, or irritable bowel syndrome.

The known disease interactions with Atrovent include:

  • Tachycardia
  • Anticholinergic effects
  • Liver/renal disease.

Some of the drugs known to interact with Albuterol include:

  • Digoxin
  • Any other bronchodilator or inhaled aerosol medicine
  • An antidepressant like desipramine, amitriptyline, doxepin, nortriptyline, imipramine, and others
  • A water pill or diuretic
  • An MAO inhibitor like phenelzine, isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine, linezolid, selegiline, rasagiline, and others or methylene blue injection
  • A beta blocker like labetalol, atenolol, propranolol, carvedilol, sotalol, metoprolol, and others.

The known disease interactions with Albuterol include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Seizures
  • Hypokalemia
  • Renal dysfunction.

When comparing Atrovent with Albuterol, Atrovent is found to have less known drug and disease interactions. Around 100 drug interactions are known with Atrovent which are mild or moderate. On the other hand, Albuterol has four times more known drug interactions most of which are moderate and others are mild or major as well as more disease interactions. Both medications have no known food and alcohol interactions. 

Atrovent Vs Albuterol Warnings:

Before taking any medicine, it is important to know about its warnings and precautions to ensure its safe use by you.

Atrovent warnings:

  • Atrovent should not be used to treat an already begun bronchospasm attack as the medicine is not fast-acting on the attack. It can only work to prevent the attack.
  • Be careful when using Atrovent. Do not get it sprayed in the eyes, especially if having glaucoma as it will cause unwanted effects on the eyes.
  • Avoid using Atrovent if allergic to any content of the inhaler medication or similar drugs.
  • Children, men with enlarged prostate, and people with obstructed bladder or other urinary issues should not use Atrovent.
  • Seek medical attention if Atrovent is not properly working or causing worsening breathing problems.  

Albuterol warnings:

  • Keep the Albuterol inhaler handy at all times.
  • Inform the doctor if asthma or COPD symptoms are not improving with the use of Albuterol and there is no prevention of asthma attacks or bronchospasm.
  • Use Albuterol only as prescribed by the doctor or else its overdose could be life-threatening.
  • Seek medical attention if any unwanted effects are experienced.

Atrovent and Albuterol Alternatives:

All brand-name medications have alternative drugs available that are comparable for the same medication and the doctors may prescribe alternative drugs if the brand-name drug is unavailable or is causing more unwanted interactions and side effects for a patient.

Some of the known comparable alternatives for Atrovent and Albuterol are Breztri aerosphere and Spiriva. While comparing all, the rating is higher for Atrovent among its alternatives and the rating is less for Albuterol among its alternatives. Breztri aerosphere and Spiriva are much better alternatives to Albuterol but not to Atrovent. 


Will Albuterol help a Cough?

Yes, Albuterol can help relieve and prevent cough which is one of the symptoms faced by asthma patients and those with reversible obstructive airway disease. The medication is not meant to help a cough caused by respiratory illnesses or infections other than asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm, and certain types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Does Albuterol Increase Heart Rate?

Rapid or fast heart rate (Tachycardia), fluttering in the chest, or pounding heartbeat is a potential, rarely occurring, serious side effect of taking Albuterol. These symptoms occur due to Albuterol’s stimulant effect on beta-2 adrenergic receptors, which can indirectly influence one’s heart rate.

Is Albuterol a Steroid?

Albuterol isn’t a steroid inhaler medication rather it is a bronchodilator, a beta-2 agonist. It acts to relax airway muscles, widen the airway tube, and increase airflow to the lungs, thereby improving breathing.

Is Atrovent a Rescue Inhaler?

Atrovent is not meant for use as a rescue inhaler to treat sudden breathing issues. Doctors prescribe this medication, packaged in an inhaler, to manage COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) symptoms. Specifically, Atrovent is used to maintain and treat bronchospasm associated with COPD including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Is Atrovent a Steroid?

Atrovent isn’t a steroid, it is an anticholinergic bronchodilator. It helps treat asthma and COPD symptoms by easing breathing. The medicine works to relax the smooth muscles of airway tubes (bronchi), improve the functioning of the lungs, and lower the secretion of mucus in the respiratory system.


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