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Formoterol is used as a long-term (maintenance) treatment to prevent or decrease breathing problems caused by ongoing lung diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema). Formoterol belongs to the class of drugs known as long-acting inhaled beta-agonists. It works by opening air passages in the lungs to make breathing easier. This effect helps to reduce wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
This medication does not work right away and should not be used for sudden attacks of breathing trouble. Your doctor must prescribe a quick-relief inhaler (e.g., albuterol, also called salbutamol in some countries) for sudden shortness of breath while you are using formoterol. You should always have a quick-relief inhaler with you.
Formoterol is usually used with other medications such as corticosteroids (inhaled or taken by mouth). However, it should not be used with other long-acting inhaled beta agonists (such as arformoterol, salmeterol) because doing so may increase your risk for side effects.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. This medication is used with a special machine called a nebulizer that changes the solution to a fine mist that you inhale. Learn all instructions for the use of this medication and the nebulizer equipment. Do not use the solution if it is discolored. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication does not require any mixing before use. Using a mouthpiece or face mask with the nebulizer, inhale the prescribed dose of medication into your lungs, usually twice daily (morning and evening) or as directed by your doctor. The two doses should be about 12 hours apart. Each treatment usually takes about 9 minutes. Give this medication only through a nebulizer. Do not swallow the solution. Do not mix with other medicines in your nebulizer.
Use this medication regularly to receive the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same times each day. To prevent infections, clean the nebulizer and mouthpiece/face mask according to the manufacturer's directions.
Do not use more of this medication or use it more often than prescribed because doing so may cause serious side effects. The manufacturer recommends that you do not use more than 2 vials a day.
Do not stop using this medication or change your dose without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
If you have been using a quick-relief inhaler (e.g., albuterol, salbutamol) on a regular daily schedule (such as 4 times daily), your doctor will direct you to stop this schedule and use the quick-relief inhaler only as needed for sudden shortness of breath. Consult your doctor for details.
Learn which of your medications/inhalers you should use every day and which you should use if your breathing suddenly worsens (quick-relief drugs). Ask your doctor ahead of time what you should do if you have new or worsening cough or shortness of breath, wheezing, increased sputum, waking up at night with trouble breathing, if you use your quick-relief inhaler more often, or if your quick-relief inhaler does not seem to be working well. Learn when you can treat sudden breathing problems by yourself and when you must get medical help right away.
Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen.
Shakiness (tremor), nausea, headache, nervousness, dizziness, dry mouth, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
This medication may raise your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure regularly and tell your doctor if the results are high.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: muscle weakness/cramps, increased thirst/urination.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: chest pain, severe dizziness, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat.
Rarely, this medication has caused severe (possibly fatal), sudden worsening of breathing problems (paradoxical bronchospasm). If you have trouble breathing or experience sudden wheezing, use your quick-relief inhaler and seek immediate medical attention.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using formoterol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to arformoterol; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: diabetes, heart problems (e.g., irregular heartbeat, angina), high blood pressure, liver problems, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), seizures, swelling of an artery (aneurysm), a certain tumor of the adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma).
Formoterol may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using formoterol, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/"water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using formoterol safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are using this medication.
This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially QT prolongation (see above).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Store in the refrigerator between 36-46 degrees F (2-8 degrees C) in the sealed protective pouch. Protect from light and heat.
Unopened pouches of medication may also be stored at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C) for up to 3 months. Discard the medication if it is not used within 3 months or after its expiration date, whichever is sooner. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
See also Uses section.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
This medicine may be harmful if swallowed. If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: chest pain, fast/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting.
If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, lung function) may be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
Avoid smoking and other factors that make breathing worse.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you should have an annual flu shot.
Selected from the Licensed Solutions data included with permission and copyrighted by FDB, inc., 2014. This copyrighted material has been downloaded and Licensed data provider and is not for distribution in professional healthcare settings. This information is generalized and not intended as specific medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional before taking any drug or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.