What Is the Difference Between Albuterol & Xopenex?

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Xopenex is often used with asthma inhalers.
Xopenex is often used with asthma inhalers. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Christian Guthier)

The difference between Albuterol and Xopenex can be very difficult since the two drugs are extremely similar. While both are used to treat the same condition, there are some specific differences between the two that might inform your decision on which to use.

What Is Albuterol?

Albuterol is a popular bronchodilator, meaning it is designed to decrease airway resistance and increase air flow. Albuterol is used for lung conditions like emphysema, but most commonly for asthma.

What Is Xopenex?

Xopenex is also a commonly used bronchodilator that is often used with inhalers to help treat asthma. It's a "beta-2," which means it relaxes the bronchial muscles when they spasm.

Xopenex is often used with asthma inhalers.
Xopenex is often used with asthma inhalers. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Christian Guthier)

Pros and Cons of Albuterol

Albuterol is generally a very effective beta-2 bronchodilator that has been used successfully thousands of times to treat asthma and other respiratory issues. The most notable side effects are occasional reports of jitters, shakiness and tachycardia.

Pros and Cons of Xopenex

Xopenex is one of the most common beta-2 bronchodilators because of its success in use, combined with a lower-reported rate of jitters and shakiness as side effects. Occasionally there are still side effects, with the most common being nervousness, jitters, headache or anxiety.

Biggest Common Difference

Based on nurses' observations and medical reports, the biggest difference between Albuterol and Xopenex seems to be that there are far less reports of jitters, nervousness and shakiness from Xopenex than with Albuterol.

Other Considerations

Albuterol and Xopenex are the same types of drugs as both are beta-2 drugs designed at treating asthma and other respiratory issues, however oftentimes insurance or Medicare will only cover one or the other. Each individual needs to see what their specific coverage will pay for.

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