Is Ventolin an emergency inhaler?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology
The short answer is "yes". Ventolin is a rescue inhaler. It is one brand name for the drug albuterol. Albuterol is generally used to prevent or abort wheezing. Wheezing (asthma attack) occurs the muscles of the airway (breathing tubes) spasm (constrict) causing bronchoconstriction. Albuterol acts quickly to relax (dilate) the airway muscles. Another part of asthma is inflammation. This is usually controlled by a steroid based inhaler. Steroid inhalers are not rescue inhalers and cannot abort an asthma attack. Albuterol and all other asthma medications should be taken as directed by your physician as part of a comprehensive asthma plan.