Combivent Respimat (ipratropium bromide and albuterol)

Combivent Respimat (ipratropium bromide and albuterol) is a combination of two fast-acting medications that is used to provide immediate, short-term relief from COPD exacerbations and COPD symptoms. Specifically, Combivent Respimat combines an anticholinergic medication with a short-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (sometimes referred to as a SABA) to provide relief from COPD symptoms in adults who are currently utilizing a regular aerosol bronchodilator but are still experiencing exacerbations or bronchospasms. The medication is administered orally through an inhaler that can be taken up to four to six times a day. Those who experience a worsening of symptoms or difficulty breathing after taking Combivent Respimat should stop taking the medication immediately. Individuals with a history of cardiovascular conditions, urinary conditions, or vision problems should be monitored carefully if taking Combivent Respimat.

What are the ingredients in Combivent Respimat?

The active ingredients in Combivent Respimat are ipratropium bromide, the anticholinergic medication, and albuterol, the short-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist.

How does Combivent Respimat work?

Combivent Respimat is a combination medication that includes an anticholinergic drug and a SABA. Both of these together work to provide short-term relief from COPD symptoms or exacerbations. The anticholinergic, ipratropium bromide, is a bronchodilator and blocks acetylcholine receptors in the body. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in muscle contraction, meaning it passes signals from one nerve cell to another and tells the body how it’s muscles should react. When acetylcholine receptors are blocked, smooth muscles, like those in the airways, can relax. This smooth muscle relaxation can reduce the number of bronchospasm and open the airways.

Albuterol is a short-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist. This means that it quickly activates beta2-adrenergic receptors in the body. Activation of these receptors sets off a chain of events in the body that also leads to smooth muscle relaxation. Although the albuterol relaxes the smooth muscles in a different way than the ipratropium bromide, both mechanisms can work together to provide relatively fast short-term relief from bronchospasms and COPD exacerbations. Since they are relatively quick acting and do not take the place of maintenance (long-term) therapies, medications like Combivent Respimat are often referred to as rescue therapies.

What are the possible side effects of Combivent Respimat?

Many clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of Combivent Respimat. The most common side effects experienced by those taking Combivent Respimat include:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Bronchitis
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Cold or cold-like symptoms (nasopharyngitis)
  • Trouble breathing

This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Combivent Respimat. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

Things to know about Combivent Respimat

Individuals with the following conditions should be monitored closely while taking Combivent Respimat:

  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Urinary retention issues or other urinary conditions including prostatic hyperplasia or bladder-neck obstruction
  • Eye problems, including narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Convulsive disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism

If bronchospasms or breathing worsen after taking Combivent Respimat, discontinue the medication immediately. Individuals taking Combivent Respimat should also be monitored for hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to ingredients of Combivent Respimat. If your symptoms worsen after you take Combivent Respimat, or you believe you are having an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention. Before starting Combivent Respimat, tell your doctor about any medical conditions you may have, as well as any medications, vitamins, or supplements you may be taking, as some medications may interact with Combivent Respimat.

Dosing information

The medication is administered orally through an inhaler, the Combivent Respimat inhaler, and can be taken up to four to six times a day. Each dosage has 20mcg of ipratroprium bromide and 100mcg of albuterol. No more than six inhalations can be taken within a 24-hour period. Detailed instructions on how to use the Combivent Respimat are located in the prescribing information for the medication. Alternatively, your doctor or a healthcare team member may show you how to use the inhaler.1

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Combivent Respimat.1

Written by: Casey Hribar | Last reviewed: April 2018.
View References
  1. Combivent Respimat [Prescribing Information]. Ridgefield, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Revised June 2016.