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Terbutaline Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 27, 2022.

Applies to terbutaline: oral tablet. Other dosage forms:


Oral route (Tablet)

Oral terbutaline sulfate has not been approved and should not be used for acute or maintenance tocolysis. In particular, terbutaline sulfate should not be used for maintenance tocolysis in the outpatient or home setting. Serious adverse reactions, including death, have been reported after administration of terbutaline sulfate to pregnant women. In the mother, these adverse reactions include increased heart rate, transient hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema and myocardial ischemia. Increased fetal heart rate and neonatal hypoglycemia may occur as a result of maternal administration.

Serious side effects of Terbutaline

Along with its needed effects, terbutaline 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 while taking terbutaline:

More common

  • Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • trembling or shaking of the hands or feet

Less common

  • Extra heartbeat
  • feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheadedness
  • feeling of warmth or heat
  • flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
  • headache
  • sweating


  • Burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • excessive muscle tone
  • muscle stiffness
  • muscle tension or tightness

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking terbutaline:

Symptoms of overdose

  • Arm, back, or jaw pain
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chest tightness or heaviness
  • confusion
  • convulsions
  • decreased urine
  • dizziness
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • dry mouth
  • fainting
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • increased thirst
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nervousness
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • pounding in the ears
  • seizures
  • shortness of breath
  • sleeplessness
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • trouble sleeping
  • unable to sleep
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Other side effects of Terbutaline

Some side effects of terbutaline 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:

More common

  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness

Less common


  • Fever
  • rash
  • redness, soreness, or itching skin
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • sores, welting, or blisters

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to terbutaline: compounding powder, inhalation aerosol, inhalation aerosol with adapter, injectable solution, oral tablet.


Common adverse effects include palpitations, chest pain, rapid heart rate, tremor or nervousness.[Ref]


Changes in heart rate of approximately 30% may be observed following 5 mg of terbutaline given orally. Aggravation of angina may be due to the tachycardia induced by terbutaline. Prolongation of the QT interval occurred in ten healthy males given a bolus injection of 0.25 mg terbutaline followed by an infusion of 5 mcg/min. Supraventricular ectopic beats and ventricular tachycardia have also been reported. Higher dosages of terbutaline should be used with caution in patients with cardiac disease, arrhythmias, or hypertension. All of these effects are dose-related and lower doses may be tolerated.

In one case-control study a positive association was found between the use of oral terbutaline for longer than 9 days and peripartum cardiomyopathy. Further study is needed to determine if a causative relationship exists.[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Tremor (up to 38%), nervousness (up to 35 %), drowsiness (up to 11.7%), dizziness (up to 10.2%)

Common (1% to 10%): Headache

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Paresthesia

Postmarketing reports: Behavioral disturbances, such as agitation and restlessness[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Palpitations (up to 22.9%)

Common (1% to 10%): Tachycardia, extrasystoles ventricular, vasodilation, decrease in diastolic pressure, hypotension

Rare (less than 0.1%): Arrhythmias, e.g. atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia and extrasystoles; peripheral vasodilation; myocardial ischemia

Frequency not reported: Ectopic beats

Postmarketing reports: An increased tendency to bleeding in connection with caesarean section[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Sweating

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Rash

Frequency not reported: Exanthema

Postmarketing reports: Urticaria[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Nausea, vomit

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dry mouth

Frequency not reported: Bad taste, diarrhea

Postmarketing reports: Mouth, throat irritation[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Pain at the injection site[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hypokalemia

Rare (less than 0.1%): Lactic acidosis, hyperglycemia[Ref]

Infusions of terbutaline, 25 mcg/min, in women in premature labor has caused decreases in serum potassium of up to 1.6 to 2 mEq/L. Another study in ten healthy males produced a mean decrease in serum potassium of 0.9 mEq/L following a bolus injection of 0.25 mg terbutaline, followed by an infusion of 5 mcg/min. A decrease in magnesium of 0.08 mmol/L was produced in these same patients.

This fall in potassium is presumably due to an intracellular shift of potassium secondary to hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Weakness, flashed feeling, asthenia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Dyspnea, chest discomfort

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pulmonary edema

Rare (less than 0.1%): Wheezing immediately after inhalation

Postmarketing reports: Paradoxical bronchospasm[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Muscle cramps, hypertonia

Frequency not reported: Muscle twitching[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Elevation of liver enzymes[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hypersensitivity vasculitis

Postmarketing reports: Hypersensitivity reactions including angioedema, bronchospasm, hypotension and collapse[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Somnolence, insomnia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anxiety, hallucinations

Postmarketing reports: Sleep disorders, hyperactivity[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

3. "Product Information. Terbutaline Sulfate (terbutaline)." Athenex Pharmaceuticals (2017):

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.