ipratropium bromide inhaler, Atrovent, Atrovent HFA

GENERIC NAME: ipratropium bromide inhaler

BRAND NAME: Atrovent HFA, Atrovent


DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Ipratropium bromide is a bronchodilator that dilates (enlarges) airways (bronchi) in the lungs. It is used in treating, symptoms of asthma, colds, allergies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Ipratropium blocks the effect of acetylcholine on airways (bronchi) and nasal passages. Acetylcholine is a chemical that nerves use to communicate with muscle cells. In asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cholinergic nerves going to the lungs cause narrowing of the airways by stimulating muscles surrounding the airways to contract. The “anti-cholinergic” effect of ipratropium blocks the effect of cholinergic nerves, causing the muscles to relax and airways to dilate. Mucus glands in the nose also are controlled by nerves that use acetylcholine to communicate. By blocking acetylcholine, ipratropium helps relieve symptoms of allergies and the common cold by preventing secretion of mucus by mucus glands in the nose. When inhaled, ipratropium travels directly to airways, and very little is absorbed into the body. The FDA approved ipratropium in October 1995.


  • Intranasal ipratropium is used for treating allergic or nonallergic rhinitis and rhinitis due to the common cold.
  • Orally inhaled ipratropium is used for preventing bronchospasms resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD (chronic bronchitis or emphysema). It should not used for the initial treatment of acute bronchospasm where a rapid response is needed. Orally inhaled ipratropium is used off-label for treating asthma.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/4/2015

COPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.