Ventolin, like any medication, has the capacity to cause unwanted side effects.

Not all patients will develop side effects. Where they do occur,  the severity of side effects can vary greatly from person to person. Some side effects are tolerable and may even reduce over time; whereas others can be more serious and may indicate that a change in medication is required.

Ventolin is the brand name for several different asthma treatments including Accuhaler, Evohaler, syrup, nebules, respirator solution and injections. Even though the active ingredient is the same, different side effects may be associated with different versions due to the way they are delivered into the body.  

It is important to be aware of any side effects that have been linked to a drug so that you are able to identify them should they occur. You can find a list of these in the patient information leaflet.

If you experience any side effects, let your doctor know. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction to the medicine, or you notice side effects that become serious, seek immediate medical assistance.

On this page, we’ll cover:

How does Ventolin work?

Ventolin is a reliever inhaler, containing the active ingredient called salbutamol. This is a drug known as a bronchodilator. This type of medicine ‘dilates’ the airways, helping to keep them open and allowing oxygen to enter the lungs more easily.

Salbutamol is a short-acting beta-2 agonist which can offer immediate relief from asthma symptoms such as breathing problems, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing.

Ventolin side effects

All types of Ventolin can cause side effects but not all patients will experience them.

Allergic reactions to Ventolin are very rare and may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people. If you have an allergic reaction you should stop using the medication and seek immediate medical advice.

An allergic reaction can include symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swallowing; swollen lips, tongue and/or face; rash; lightheadedness; feeling faint; and collapsing.

If you develop palpitations or an uneven heartbeat you should seek advice from your doctor. It is likely that these symptoms will improve once the medication has been used for some time.

Side effects listed in the patient information leaflets for Evohaler and Accuhaler include:

Common (1 in 10 people or less):

  • Feeling shaky
  • Headaches

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):

  • Irritated mouth and throat
  • Muscle cramps

Rare (1 in 1,000 people or less):

  • Lowered blood potassium
  • Increased blood flow to extremities also known as peripheral dilation

Very rare (1 in 10,000 people or less):

  • A change in sleep patterns or behaviour, such as restlessness and excitability.

Frequency unknown:

  • Chest pain, usually caused by angina (restricted blood flow to the heart).

It is important that you do not stop using your Ventolin treatment unless you are instructed to do so by a doctor.

Patient information leaflet

You should always read the patient information leaflet whenever you are prescribed a course of treatment.

A paper copy of this will always be supplied with your treatment. However, you can also find electronic versions online at the emc website.

When do Ventolin side effects occur?

It is possible for medication side effects to become apparent immediately after use, especially if an ingredient causes an allergic reaction. However, side effects can develop at any time during use, whether that be several months or sometimes even several years into a treatment course.

If you notice anything new, let your GP or asthma nurse know.

What if Ventolin stops working?

Some medicines can become less effective over time. If you don’t think Ventolin is working as well as it normally does or has done before, tell your GP or asthma nurse. They will be review your treatment and offer an alternative where needed.

If you feel as though Ventolin is becoming less effective, it’s important not to ignore it. For asthmatics, having access to reliever inhaler treatment that works is vital in preventing the onset of an asthma attack.

Page last reviewed:  08/06/2018 | Next review due:  08/06/2020