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Last reviewed on RxList: 11/24/2008
Maxair Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 1/10/2016

Maxair (pirbuterol) inhalation is a bronchodilator used to treat conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Common side effects of Maxair include headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, tremor, nervousness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth or throat, sleep problems (insomnia), cough, hoarseness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, or muscle pain.

The usual dose of Maxair for adults and children 12 years and older is two inhalations (400 mcg) repeated every 4-6 hours. One inhalation (200 mcg) repeated every 4-6 hours may be sufficient for some patients. A total daily dose of 12 inhalations should not be exceeded. Maxair may interact with beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, other inhaled bronchodilators, caffeine, diet pills, or decongestants. Tell your doctor all medications you use. During pregnancy, Maxair should be used only if prescribed. It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Maxair (pirbuterol) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Maxair Consumer Information

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • bronchospasm (wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing), especially after starting a new canister of this medicine;
  • chest pain and fast, pounding, or uneven heart beats;
  • tremor, nervousness;
  • low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or
  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • headache, dizziness;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • cough, hoarseness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose;
  • mild nausea, vomiting;
  • dry mouth and throat;
  • muscle pain; or
  • diarrhea.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Maxair (Pirbuterol)

Maxair Professional Information


The following rates of adverse reactions to pirbuterol are based on single- and multiple-dose clinical trials involving 761 patients, 400 of whom received multiple doses (mean duration of treatment was 2.5 months and maximum was 19 months).

The following were the adverse reactions reported more frequently than 1 in 100 patients:

CNS: nervousness (6.9%), tremor (6.0%), headache (2.0%), dizziness (1.2%).

Cardiovascular: palpitations (1.7%), tachycardia (1.2%).

Respiratory: cough (1.2%).

Gastrointestinal: nausea (1.7%).

The following adverse reactions occurred less frequently than 1 in 100 patients and there may be a causal relationship with pirbuterol:

CNS: depression, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, weakness, hyperkinesia, syncope.

Cardiovascular: hypotension, skipped beats, chest pain.

Gastrointestinal: dry mouth, glossitis, abdominal pain/cramps, anorexia, diarrhea, stomatitis, nausea and vomiting.

Ear, Nose and Throat: smell/taste changes, sore throat.

Dermatological: rash, pruritus.

Other:numbness in extremities, alopecia, bruising, fatigue, edema, weight gain, flushing.

Other adverse reactions were reported with a frequency of less than 1 in 100 patients but a causal relationship between pirbuterol and the reaction could not be determined: migraine, productive cough, wheezing, and dermatitis.

The following rates of adverse reactions during three-month controlled clinical trials involving 310 patients are noted. The table does not include mild reactions.


Reaction Pirbuterol Metaproterenol
N=157 N=153
Central Nervous System
  tremors 1.3% 3.3%
  nervousness 4.5% 2.6%
  headache 1.3% 2.0%
  weakness .0% 1.3%
  drowsiness .0% 0.7%
  dizziness 0.6% .0%
  palpitations 1.3% 1.3%
  tachycardia 1.3% 2.0%
  chest pain/tightness 1.3% .0%
  cough .0% 0.7%
  nausea 1.3% 2.0%
  diarrhea 1.3% 0.7%
  dry mouth 1.3% 1.3%
  vomiting .0% 0.7%
  skin reaction .0% 0.7%
  rash .0% 1.3%
  bruising 0.6% .0%
  smell/taste change 0.6% .0%
  backache .0% 0.7%
  fatigue .0% 0.7%
  hoarseness .0% 0.7%
  nasal congestion .0% 0.7%

Electrocardiograms: Electrocardiograms, obtained during a randomized, double-blind, crossover study in 57 patients, showed no observations or findings considered clinically significant, or related to drug administration. Most electrocardiographic observations, obtained during a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study in 40 patients, were judged not clinically significant or related to drug administration. One patient was noted to have some changes on the one hour postdose electrocardiogram consisting of ST and T wave abnormality suggesting possible inferior ischemia. This abnormality was not observed on the predose or the six hours postdose ECG. A treadmill was subsequently performed and all the findings were normal.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Maxair (Pirbuterol)

Related Resources for Maxair

© Maxair Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Maxair Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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