Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 22, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Bronchodilator
Pharmacologic Class: Beta-2 Adrenergic Agonist
Uses for terbutaline
Terbutaline injection is used to prevent bronchospasm in patients 12 years of age and older with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases.
Terbutaline belongs to the family of medicines known as bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medicines that relax the muscles in the bronchial tubes (air passages) of the lungs. They relieve cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and troubled breathing by increasing the flow of air through the bronchial tubes.
Terbutaline is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using terbutaline
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For terbutaline, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to terbutaline or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Use of terbutaline injection in children younger than 12 years of age is not recommended.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of terbutaline injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving terbutaline injection.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking terbutaline, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using terbutaline with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using terbutaline with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Iobenguane I 123
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of terbutaline. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Diabetes or
- Heart or blood vessel disease or
- Heart rhythm problems (e.g., arrhythmia) or
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) or
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or
- Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood) or
- Ketoacidosis (high ketones in the blood) or
- Seizures—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of terbutaline
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you terbutaline. Terbutaline is given as a shot under your skin (usually into the shoulder area).
Terbutaline may sometimes be given at home to patients who do not need to be in a hospital or clinic. If you are using terbutaline at home, your doctor will teach you or someone who cares for you how to prepare and inject the medicine. Be sure that you understand exactly how the medicine is prepared and injected.
Use terbutaline only as directed. Do not use more of it and do not use it more often than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
If you are using terbutaline for asthma, you should use another medicine that works faster for an asthma attack that has already started. If you do not have another medicine to use for an acute attack or if you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.
The dose of terbutaline will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of terbutaline. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For injection dosage form:
- For prevention of bronchospasm:
- Adults and teenagers—0.25 milligrams (mg) injected under your skin. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 0.5 mg within 4 hours.
- Children younger than 12 years of age—Use is not recommended.
- For prevention of bronchospasm:
If you miss a dose of terbutaline, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store unopened vials of terbutaline at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. Do not freeze. An open vial of medicine must be used right away.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
Precautions while using terbutaline
It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to check for any unwanted effects caused by the medicine.
Using terbutaline to prevent or treat preterm labor can harm pregnant women. Terbutaline may increase risk of heart problems and other serious side effects when given to a pregnant woman for a long time. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Check with your doctor at once if difficulty with breathing continues after using a dose of terbutaline or if your condition gets worse.
You may also be taking an anti-inflammatory medicine (e.g., corticosteroids) for asthma along with terbutaline. Do not stop taking the anti-inflammatory medicine even if your asthma seems better, unless you are told to do so by your doctor.
If you develop a skin rash, hives, or any allergic reaction to terbutaline, stop using the medicine and check with your doctor right away.
Hypokalemia may occur while you are using terbutaline. Check with your doctor right away if you have more than one of the following symptoms: convulsions; decreased urine; dry mouth; increased thirst; irregular heartbeat; loss of appetite; mood changes; muscle pain or cramps; nausea or vomiting; numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips; shortness of breath; or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Terbutaline may affect blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic and notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests, check with your doctor.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems, and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Terbutaline side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
- shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- Chest discomfort
- difficult or labored breathing
- feeling of warmth
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
- shortness of breath
- tightness in the chest
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Arm, back, or jaw pain
- blurred vision
- chest pain
- chest tightness or heaviness
- decreased urine
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- dry mouth
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- increased thirst
- loss of appetite
- mood changes
- muscle pain or cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
- trouble sleeping
- unable to sleep
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Pain at the injection site
- redness, soreness, or itching skin
- sores, welting, or blisters
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about terbutaline
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 11 Reviews
- Drug class: adrenergic bronchodilators
- Other brands
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.