Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Asthma treatment: The dosage of inhaled medications should not be stopped or reduced without consulting your doctor, even if you feel better after starting treatment with formoterol. Parents and guardians of children and adolescents who have been prescribed formoterol need to be aware of the importance of consistent and correct use of the medication, the importance of continuing to use the anti-inflammatory medications (corticosteroids) the doctor has prescribed, and the warning signs of worsening asthma such as increased use or reduced effectiveness of formoterol.
Formoterol is intended for the maintenance treatment of asthma only and should not be used in place of a short-acting reliever medication (a "rescue medication") for treatment of acute asthma symptoms. Be sure you have discussed with your doctor and clearly understand what to do in the event of asthma flare-ups. If you find you need to use your short-acting inhaler more often, your condition seems to worsen, or the relief from the formoterol doesn't last as long as it used to, call your doctor. These may be signs that your asthma is worsening, and they need to be evaluated by your doctor.
Asthma related death: Do not stop using corticosteroid medications when formoterol is prescribed. Formoterol is not a substitute for inhaled corticosteroids. When long-acting bronchodilators, such as formoterol are used without inhaled (or oral) corticosteroids, there is an increased likelihood of death occurring due to severe asthma symptoms.
Bronchospasm: Occasionally, inhaled medications may cause the airways to spasm and close up, making breathing even more difficult (bronchospasm) and can be life-threatening. If you experience increased difficulty breathing after using a dose of formoterol, seek immediate medical attention.
Diabetes: Formoterol can cause increased blood glucose. If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Since in rare cases formoterol may cause dizziness, people operating dangerous machinery or driving cars should do so with caution until they have determined how formoterol affects them.
Heart rhythm: Rarely, formoterol can cause changes to the normal rhythm of the heart, including an irregular heartbeat called QT prolongation. QT prolongation is a serious life-threatening condition that can cause fainting, seizures, and sudden death. If you are at risk for heart rhythm problems (e.g., people with heart failure, angina, low potassium or magnesium levels), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Monitoring asthma: Talk to your doctor about ways for you to monitor your asthma at home, such as a peak flow meter. Peak flow meters measure the amount of air you can expel in a short time and can help you identify when your asthma might be flaring up even before you begin to experience symptoms.
Pregnancy: The safety of formoterol during pregnancy has not been established. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if formoterol passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of formoterol have not been established for use by children less than 6 years of age.