Reviewed on 5/17/2023

What Is Terbutaline and How Does It Work?

Terbutaline is a prescription medication used to treat Bronchospasm. 

What Are Dosages of Terbutaline?

Adult and pediatric dosage


  • 2.5mg
  • 5mg

Injectable solution

  • 1mg/mL


Adult dosage


  • Initiate at 2.5 mg three/four times daily orally
  • Maintenance: 5 mg three times daily orally every 6 hours while patient is awake; reduce dose to 2.5 mg every 6 hours
  • Not to exceed 15 mg/day


  • 0.25 mg every 15-30 minutes x 3 doses as need in lateral deltoid
  • Not to exceed 0.5 mg/4 hours

Pediatric dosage


  • Children younger than 12 years of age: 0.05 mg/kg three times daily initially; increase as needed, not to exceed 5 mg/day
  • Children 12-15 years of age: 2.5 mg orally every 6 hours 3 times daily; not to exceed 7.5 mg/day
  • Children older than 15 years: 5 mg/dose orally every 8 hours three times daily; reduce dose to 2.5 mg every 6 hours; not to exceed 15 mg/24 hours


  • Children younger than 12 years of age: 0.005-0.01 mg/kg (no more than 0.4 mg) every 15-20 minutes for three doses; then every 2-6 hours as needed
  • Children older than 12 years: 0.25 mg every 15-30 minutes x 3 doses as needed in lateral deltoid; not to exceed 0.5mg/4 hours

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows: 

  • See "Dosages."

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Terbutaline?

Common side effects of Terbutaline include:

  • fast or pounding heartbeats, 
  • chest pain, 
  • nervousness, 
  • tremor
  • drowsiness, and 
  • headache

Serious side effects of Terbutaline include:

  • hives, 
  • difficult breathing, 
  • swelling in the face or throat, 
  • wheezing
  • choking, 
  • other breathing problems after using the medicine, 
  • chest pain, 
  • fast heart rate, 
  • pounding heartbeats, 
  • fluttering in the chest, 
  • lightheadedness
  • seizure
  • leg cramps, 
  • constipation, 
  • irregular heartbeats, 
  • increased thirst or urination, 
  • numbness or tingling, 
  • muscle weakness, 
  • limp feeling, 
  • tremors, and 
  • worsening or no improvement in the symptoms

Rare side effects of Terbutaline include:

  • none 

This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What Other Drugs Interact with Terbutaline?

If your medical doctor is using this medicine to treat your pain, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider or pharmacist first.

  • Terbutaline has severe interactions with no other drugs.
  • Terbutaline has serious interactions with at least 18 other drugs. 
  • Terbutaline has moderate interactions with at least 239 other drugs.
  • Terbutaline has minor interactions with at least 15 other drugs.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker for any drug interactions. Therefore, before using this drug, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your physician if you have health questions or concerns.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Terbutaline?


  • Hypersensitivity to sympathomimetics
  • Use over 72 hours in management or prevention of preterm labor
  • Oral administration in preterm labor

Effects of drug abuse

  • None

Short-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Terbutaline?”

Long-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Terbutaline?”


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • History of seizures
  • History of cardiac disease, including ischemic heart disease or associated arrhythmias
  • Paradoxical bronchoconstriction may occur with excessive use
  • Fatalities reported with excessive use of sympathomimetics
  • Optimize anti-inflammatory treatment prior to administering terbutaline for asthma therapy
  • Beta-2 agonists may increase serum glucose; use caution in patients with diabetes mellitus
  • Use caution in glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, seizure disorders, and hypokalemia

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • Use with caution if benefits outweigh risks during pregnancy. 
  • Lactation: Distributed into breast milk, but in amounts generally considered insufficient to affect nursing infants (AAP Committee states compatible with nursing)
Medscape. Terbutaline.


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