Atrovent HFA (ipratropium bromide)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

Atrovent® HFA (ipratropium bromide) aerosol is an oral inhalation medicine. It is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.1

Atrovent is part of a class of drugs for COPD called anticholinergic bronchodilators. There are long-acting and short-acting anticholinergics bronchodilators. Atrovent HFA is the short-acting type. Atrovent HFA is often used to treat people with COPD who have breathing symptoms sometimes but not all of the time.1

Atrovent HFA is a maintenance therapy for COPD. It is not used for treating COPD flare-ups that have already started. Rescue inhalers should be used for symptoms that are very severe and need relief very quickly.1

What are the ingredients in Atrovent HFA?

The active ingredient in Atrovent HFA is ipratropium bromide.1

How does Atrovent HFA work?

As an anticholinergic drug, Atrovent HFA helps to treat COPD symptoms by relaxing the muscles that surround the airways. COPD can cause irritation in the lungs which makes those muscles tighten up. This can make COPD breathing symptoms worse.1

In most cases, the medicine in Atrovent HFA starts improving lung function in about 15 minutes. Atrovent HFA takes about 3 times longer than albuterol to start working. For this reason, it is not recommended for use as a rescue inhaler.1

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Atrovent HFA include:1

  • Bronchitis
  • COPD flares
  • Difficulty or labored breathing
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Atrovent HFA may also cause serious side effects, including:1

  • Allergic reactions like rash, hives, or breathing problems
  • New or worsening narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Urinary retention

If your breathing problems quickly worsen after taking Atrovent HFA, contact 9-1-1 right away.1

These are not all the possible side effects of Atrovent HFA. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Atrovent HFA. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Atrovent HFA.

Other things to know

Avoid spraying Atrovent HFA into the eyes because it may cause eye pain and discomfort, blurry vision, or dilated pupils. Contact your doctor right away if this medicine gets into your eyes.1

There is not enough data to know if Atrovent is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Before taking this drug, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.1

Atrovent HFA should not be taken with other anticholinergic drugs. Before beginning treatment for COPD, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.1

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Atrovent HFA.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.