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Brand Name
Atrovent HFA
Common Name
ipratropium bromide aerosol
How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Ipratropium belongs to the class of medications called bronchodilators. It is used to treat spasms in the lungs associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It works by opening the airways to make breathing easier.

Ipratropium inhalation aerosol should not be used to treat acute breathing problems where rapid results are required. Inhalers that contain "reliever" medications with fast action (e.g., salbutamol, terbutaline) should be used for acute treatment of breathing problems.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dosage of ipratropium inhalation aerosol is 2 metered doses 3 or 4 times daily. The most beneficial dose must be determined individually. Some people may need up to 4 metered doses at a time to obtain the best benefit when first starting treatment. The maximum daily dose should not be more than 12 metered doses, and the minimum time between doses should not be less than 4 hours.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose of scheduled medication, use it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on with your regular schedule. Do not double a dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Your doctor or pharmacist should instruct you on proper use of the medication. Also refer to the information pamphlet provided with the medication. Always shake the unit well before using. If you have been instructed to use 2 inhalations per dose, wait one minute between inhalations.

Store the aerosol canister at room temperature and do not place in hot water or near radiators, stoves, or other sources of heat. Protect it from light and moisture and keep it out of the reach of children.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each valve depression actuation delivers 20 g of ATROVENT. Nonmedicinal ingredients: 1,1,1,2 - Tetrafluoroethane (HFA 134a)), citric acid, ethanol, nitrogen, and water. This product does not contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or soya lecithin.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Ipratropium bromide aerosol should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to ipratropium or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • is allergic to atropine-like medications in general
What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • constipation
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • irritation of mouth or throat
  • nausea
  • unpleasant taste
  • vomiting

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blurred vision or other changes in vision
  • burning eyes
  • constipation (continuing) or lower abdominal pain or bloating
  • difficult urination
  • flu-like symptoms
  • nervousness
  • pounding heartbeat
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • vision changes

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • increased wheezing, tightness in chest, or difficulty breathing
  • severe eye pain
  • skin rash or hives
  • swelling of face, lips, or eyelids

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Acute breathing problems: This medication is not for use as a "reliever" medication. If you get a sudden attack of breathlessness, be sure to use your "reliever" medication for rapid relief of your symptoms. It is very important that you have your "reliever" medication available with you at all times. If you persistently use more of your "reliever" medication, contact your doctor.

Eye problems: Take care to ensure that ipratropium bromide aerosol does not reach the eye. There have been reports of eye complications (e.g., tearing, increased eye pressure, glaucoma, and eye pain) when this medication has been released into the eyes. Eye problems have occurred when the aerosol was used with the standard mouthpiece or with a spacing device. If you experience eye pain, blurred vision, or vision changes, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Glaucoma: People with glaucoma should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. You will probably need to have regular eye examinations while you are using this medication.

Prostate or urinary problems: People with prostate or urinary tract problems should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while using this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if ipratropium bromide passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 18 years of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between ipratropium bromide aerosol and any of the following:

  • anticholinergic medications (e.g., atropine, hyoscyamine, scopolamine)
  • beta-adrenergic medications (e.g., formoterol, salbutamol, terbutaline)
  • theophylline

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.
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