Ipratropium oral inhalation is used to prevent wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways) such as chronic bronchitis (swelling of the air passages that lead to the lungs) and emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs). Ipratropium is in a class of medications called bronchodilators. It works by relaxing and opening the air passages to the lungs to make breathing easier.
Ipratropium comes as a solution (liquid) to inhale by mouth using a nebulizer (machine that turns medication into a mist that can be inhaled) and as an aerosol to inhale by mouth using an inhaler. The nebulizer solution is usually used three or four times a day, once every 6 to 8 hours. The aerosol is usually used four times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use ipratropium exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about what you should do if you experience symptoms such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or chest tightness. Your doctor will probably give you a different inhaler that acts more quickly than ipratropium to relieve these symptoms. Your doctor may also tell you to use additional puffs of ipratropium along with other medications to treat these symptoms. Follow these directions carefully and be sure you know when you should use each of your inhalers. Do not use extra puffs of ipratropium unless your doctor tells you that you should. Never use more than 12 puffs of ipratropium inhalation aerosol in a 24-hour period.
Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you feel that ipratropium inhalation no longer controls your symptoms. Also call your doctor if you were told to use extra doses of ipratropium and you find that you need to use more doses than usual.
If you are using the inhaler, your medication will come in canisters. Each canister of ipratropium aerosol is designed to provide 200 inhalations. After the labeled number of inhalations has been used, later inhalations may not contain the correct amount of medication. You should keep track of the number of inhalations you have used. You can divide the number of inhalations in your inhaler by the number of inhalations you use each day to find out how many days your inhaler will last. Throw away the canister after you have used the labeled number of inhalations even if it still contains some liquid and continues to release a spray when it is pressed. Do not float the canister in water to see if it still contains medication.
Be careful not to get ipratropium into your eyes. If you are using the inhaler, keep your eyes closed when you use the medication. If you are using the nebulizer solution, you should use a nebulizer with a mouthpiece instead of a face mask. If you must use a face mask, ask your doctor how you can prevent the medication from leaking. If you get ipratropium in your eyes, you may develop narrow angle glaucoma (a serious eye condition that may cause loss of vision). If you already have narrow angle glaucoma, your condition may worsen. You may experience widened pupils (black circles in the center of the eyes), eye pain or redness, blurred vision, and vision changes such as seeing halos around lights. Call your doctor if you get ipratropium into your eyes or if you develop these symptoms.
The inhaler that comes with ipratropium aerosol is designed for use only with a canister of ipratropium. Never use it to inhale any other medication, and do not use any other inhaler to inhale ipratropium.
Do not use your ipratropium inhaler when you are near a flame or source of heat. The inhaler may explode if it is exposed to very high temperatures.
Before you use ipratropium inhalation for the first time, read the written instructions that come with it. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or respiratory therapist to show you how to use the inhaler or nebulizer. Practice using the inhaler or nebulizer while he or she watches.
To use the inhaler, follow these steps:
To inhale the solution using a nebulizer, follow these steps;
Clean your inhaler or nebulizer regularly. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about cleaning your inhaler or nebulizer.
Ipratropium is also sometimes used to treat the symptoms of asthma. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition
Before using ipratropium inhalation,
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Use the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Ipratropium may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
Ipratropium may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store unused vials of the solution in the foil pack until you are ready to use them. Store the medication at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Do not puncture the aerosol canister, and do not discard it in an incinerator or fire.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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