Salbutamol is used to treat cough, wheeze and difficulty breathing caused by respiratory problems such as asthma and COPD. It works as a bronchodilator (to open the airways) and a reliever inhaler (to relieve breathing problems).
Salbutamol is called a ‘reliever’ medicine because it quickly relieves your breathing problems. It starts to work within a few minutes and the effect will last between 3 to 5 hours.
Image credit: Relievers Asthma Canada
Using an inhaler device enables the medicine to go straight into your airways when you breathe in. This means that your airways and lungs are treated, but very little of the medicine gets into the rest of your body.
In New Zealand salbutamol is available as an inhaler and nebulising solution. Nebulisers are not commonly used – they are used in situations when using inhalers is not suitable, such as in young children, or very sick people.
The information on this page is about salbutamol inhalers. Read more about nebulisers.