Ipratropium – Bronchodilator: Uses, Mechanism of Action and Secondary Effects

What is it for?

Ipratropium bromide is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema in adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older.

The medication is a bronchodilator and works by relaxing certain muscles in the airways to allow more air to come in and out of the lungs.

The uses of inhalation of off-label ipratropium bromide include the treatment of asthma.

The ipratropium bromide inhalation solution belongs to a class of medications known as anticholinergic or antimuscarinic drugs and is inhaled using a special device called a nebulizer.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease

In COPD, the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs) are partially obstructed, making it difficult to get in and out of the air.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While smoking is the most common cause of COPD, there are other possible causes.

Common symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
  • Wheezing (a whistling or squeaking sound when breathing)
  • Mucus production
  • Tos
  • Chest tightness.

Depending on the severity of your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, your doctor may recommend a series of medications as part of your treatment.

Some medications to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include:

  • Broncodilatadores
  • Steroids (like inhaled steroids)
  • An annual flu vaccine
  • A pneumococcal vaccine.

Changes in lifestyle are also recommended. The inhalation solution of ipratropium bromide is a bronchodilator, which means that it helps to open the airways.

Ipratropium bromide can be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

How does the ipratropium bromide inhalation solution work?

The inhalation solution of ipratropium bromide belongs to a group of drugs known as anticholinergic or antimuscarinic drugs.

Ipratropium bromide binds to specific receptors (called muscarinic receptors) in the airways, which helps to relax the smooth muscle of the airways.

Use of ipratropium bromide inhalation solution in children

Ipratropium bromide inhalation solution is not approved for use in children under 12, be sure to talk to your doctor about the use of ipratropium bromide inhalation solution in children.

Occasionally, your doctor may recommend an inhalation solution of ipratropium bromide to treat something other than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The use of the inhalation solution of ipratropium bromide to treat asthma is considered a use not indicated on the label of the medication.

Side effects of ipratropium inhalation

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.

Stop using ipratropium and call your doctor immediately if you have a side effect such as:

  • Bronchospasm (wheezing, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing), especially after starting a new container of this medication
  • Blurred vision, eye pain or seeing halos around the lights
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Urinating less than normal or nothing at all

Other common side effects may include:

  • Headache, dizziness
  • Stuffy nose, sinus pain, dry mouth, cough, hoarseness.
  • Nausea, upset stomach, constipation.
  • Back pain.
  • Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms.

In case of overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention. An overdose of ipratropium can be fatal.

Symptoms of overdose may include chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeat, tremors, dry mouth, extreme thirst, muscle weakness, severe headache, palpitations in the neck or ears, or the feeling that you will faint.

What should I avoid while using ipratropium?

If this medication comes into contact with your eyes, rinse with water and seek medical attention.

This medicine may cause blurred vision and may affect your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do something that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.