COPD Home > More Info on Terbutaline Indications
Terbutaline for Emphysema
Terbutaline can also be used to treat bronchospasm in people with emphysema. Emphysema is a form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is a degenerative disease that usually develops after many years of assault on lung tissues from cigarette smoke or other toxins that pollute the air. These toxins destroy the small air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli, that stretch as they transport oxygen from the air to the blood and then shrink as they force out carbon dioxide. As a result, the lungs lose their elasticity, and exhaling becomes difficult as the damaged lungs trap air and cannot effectively exchange it with fresh air. As the damage progresses, the effort needed to breathe increases and, ultimately, each breath becomes labored.
While terbutaline can help improve breathing in people with emphysema, it is not an emphysema cure and is generally used along with other types of emphysema treatment.
Terbutaline is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs.
Terbutaline also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.
Terbutaline is approved for treating asthma in children as young as 12 years old. Talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using terbutaline in children.