Atrovent is a metered-dosage bronchodilation inhaler that treats asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms. Atrovent contains the active ingredient ipratropium bromide. This medicine is also available under the name Atrovent HFA.

Atrovent delivers 17mcg of a 0.2% ipratropium bromide solution per inhalation. This medicine works over time to reduce wheezing and shortness of breath. Its effects are slower than a fast-acting, quick-relief, or rescue inhaler with albuterol. Some doctors may tell patients to use Atrovent alongside a rescue inhaler during asthma attacks or other shortness of breath. However, this medicine does not replace a quick-relief albuterol inhaler. Continue to carry and use your albuterol inhaler as prescribed while taking Atrovent.

How Does Atrovent Work?

Acetylcholine is a necessary neurotransmitter but it can cause problems in high concentrations. COPD is associated with high acetylcholine levels that cause smooth muscles in the lungs to contract. This contraction leads to bronchodilation, or lung constriction, that makes it hard to breathe. Similar bronchodilation also occurs during asthma attacks. Acetylcholine also triggers mucus secretion and may trigger inflammation.

Ipratropium bromide blocks acetylcholine from communicating with cells. This mechanism decreases lung muscle contraction and reduces bronchodilation. It also reduces the amount of mucus secreted by lung cells. Finally, it may reduce lung inflammation. All of these effects reduce the overall frequency and severity of COPD flare-ups and asthma attacks.

Ipratropium bromide is an anticholinergic, a type of medicine that changes how the body uses acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a natural particle that sends messages between parts of the body. Acetylcholine manages communication in several vital body systems:

  • Where nerves connect to muscles and bones
  • Smooth muscles in the digestive, urinary, circulatory, and respiratory systems
  • Brain
  • Spinal cord

Atrovent Precautions and Warnings

Talk to your doctor about your allergies, medical history, and past COPD or asthma treatments before starting Atrovent. Do not use Atrovent if you are allergic to ipratropium bromide or similar drugs such as Atropine or Hyoscyamine. You should also not take Atrovent if you’re allergic to any of the medication’s inactive ingredients.

Atrovent can make some health conditions more serious. You shouldn’t take Atrovent if you have closed-angle glaucoma or trouble urinating.

Atrovent is a preventative medication and not a rescue medication. Do not rely on Atrovent during an active asthma attack or COPD flare. You still need to use an albuterol inhaler (such as Proair Respiclick) to relax your lungs and breathing passage. Your doctor may advise you to use Atrovent during attacks or flares, but only in addition to albuterol.

Rinse your mouth and do not swallow the rinse water after using Atrovent.

Occasionally, bronchodilation inhalers like Atrovent can cause the lungs to contract instead. This situation is rare but very dangerous. Get medical help immediately if your breathing gets worse after using Atrovent.

It’s unclear if Atrovent is safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Discuss your options with your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.

Atrovent Side Effects

Like any medication, Atrovent may cause side effects for users

Common Side Effects

Common Atrovent side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Runny or stuffed up nose
  • Urinary tract infections

Breathing Side Effects

Atrovent may also make your breathing issues worse while your body adjusts to the medication. Tell your doctor about these side effects, especially if they worsen over time. These symptoms can include:

  • Cough
  • Bronchitis symptoms
  • Worsening COPD
  • Trouble breathing
  • Flu-like symptoms

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to Atrovent are rare but possible. Get medical attention if you notice swelling of the mouth, nose, or throat; difficulty breathing; hives; or rash. Inhalers can also cause paradoxical bronchoconstriction, or lung tightening. If you have trouble breathing, chest tightness or pain, or wheezing after using Atrovent, use your rescue inhaler and call your doctor for help.

Drug Interactions with Atrovent

As an inhaled medication, Atrovent’s active ingredients are concentrated in the lungs, breathing passages, and mouth. It is most likely to interact with other inhaled medications and breathing treatments. However, it’s still possible for Atrovent to interact with drugs in the rest of the body. Tell your doctor about all your medicines, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, herbs, and more.

Atrovent may cause negative interactions with the following drugs:

  • Aclidinium
  • Glycopyrronium
  • Tiotropium
  • Oxybutynin
  • Tolterodine
  • Darifenacin
  • Solifenacin
  • Fesoterodine (found in Toviaz)
  • Benztropine
  • Procyclidine
  • Trihexyphenidyl
  • Orphenadrine

Strengths and Dosages of Atrovent

Atrovent inhalers contain 12.9g of 17mcg ipratropium bromide. Each inhaler typically contains 200 inhalations, or puffs, of medicine. The dosing instructions depend on the patient’s age, condition, and symptoms.

ConditionPatient AgeDosage
COPDAdult (12+ years)2 puffs 4 times a day and as needed
COPDChildren (4-11 years)Determined by doctor
AsthmaAdult (12+ years)1-4 puffs 4 times a day and as needed
AsthmaChildren (4-11 years)1-2 puffs 3-4 times a day and as needed

Alternatives to Atrovent

Atrovent is currently the only anticholinergic inhaler with its specific mechanism of action. There is also not a generic version available. However, other inhalers do treat COPD and asthma.

Alternatives include:

Atrovent FAQs

Why did my doctor prescribe Atrovent?

Atrovent is a bronchodilator that relieves shortness of breath, wheezing, and lung constriction. It’s typically prescribed to patients with asthma or COPD. Your doctor prescribed Atrovent to reduce your asthma or COPD symptoms and help you breathe better.

How long does Atrovent take to start working?

Atrovent can take two weeks to reach its full effect. Keep using Atrovent as instructed even if it doesn’t seem to work at first. Let your doctor know if your symptoms don’t start to improve after a few weeks.

Does Atrovent help when I’m having an asthma attack or COPD flare-up?

Ask your doctor if you should take Atrovent during an asthma attack or COPD flare. Some doctors prescribe the Atrovent inhaler to be used during these circumstances. However, Atrovent doesn’t take the place of your rescue inhaler. Always use your albuterol inhaler when you need it.

Does Atrovent have a generic?

No, there is no generic for Atrovent. It’s only available as a brand-name medication.

What is paradoxical bronchoconstriction?

Paradoxical bronchoconstriction is a rare condition where an inhaler makes your lungs tighten instead of relaxing. Paradoxical bronchoconstriction can be very dangerous during a COPD flare or asthma attack since your lungs are already tightened. If you notice wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, chest tightness, or coughing after using Atrovent, use your rescue inhaler and get immediate medical attention.

What if I miss a dose of Atrovent?

Take your missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it’s almost time to take your next regular dose. You shouldn’t take a double dose to make up for missing one.

What is the cost of Atrovent in America?

Atrovent is only available as a name-brand medication. An Atrovent inhaler costs around $600 without any discounts or savings. You can save up to 80% on your medication with MyRx Outlet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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