Labetalol is a medication that doctors prescribe for high blood pressure. If someone with asthma takes it, it can worsen their symptoms. Medical professionals should check a person’s medical history to determine if they can safely take labetalol.

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Any individual with a health condition that affects their breathing should be cautious about taking labetalol.

This article will examine why someone with asthma cannot take labetalol and the medication’s possible side effects. It also lists conditions that rule people out of taking this medication. It then looks at other drugs people with asthma should not take and the general management of the condition.

Labetalol is a type of medication known as a beta-blocker. These medications work by relaxing blood vessels and slowing heart rate to reduce blood pressure.

Beta-agonists treat symptoms of asthma as well as other lung conditions. These medications relax the muscles that line the airways. However, labetalol works against the action of beta-agonists by preventing the muscles from relaxing.

A study in 2021 demonstrated an increase in the severity of symptoms in people with a history of asthma when they took this medication. For this reason, healthcare professionals do not usually diagnose labetalol for individuals with asthma or having trouble breathing.

When doctors prescribe this class of drugs

Those not receiving treatment for asthma symptoms may have less severe reactions to labetalol. This suggests that the severity of asthma symptoms could influence the safety of labetalol for those with the condition.

Cardioselective beta-blockers, such as metoprolol and atenolol, will not affect beta cells in the lungs, so they are generally safe to use in people with asthma. However, a person should speak with a doctor to determine which drug is best for their treatment plan.

Side effects

Labetalol may cause an asthma attack in a person with the condition.

However, if someone with asthma takes labetalol, they may experience:

People should consult medical attention if they cannot reduce asthma symptoms with their usual line of treatment.

Status asthmaticus

There is a significantly higher risk of people with asthma experiencing an asthma attack and status asthmaticus, a severe and life threatening asthma state, after taking labetalol.

If a person is in status asthmaticus, the following symptoms may be present:

  • hypoxemia, or low levels of oxygen in the blood
  • hypercarbia, or excess carbon dioxide in the blood
  • respiratory failure

If a person’s breathing does not improve after using an inhaler, they must seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, a study in 2018 found that pregnant people hospitalized during delivery had around a 5% increased risk of experiencing status asthmaticus when taking labetalol compared with those taking alternative medications.

Doctors avoid prescribing labetalol to a person for several reasons. Healthcare professionals refer to these reasons as contraindications of a medication.

These contraindications include certain health conditions such as:

A 2022 study of 540 pregnancies found that twice as many babies born to people who had exposure to beta-blocker medications were small for their gestational age compared with those without exposure. More research is necessary to determine this effect across other samples.

A person should always follow the instruction of a healthcare professional. They may be able to make changes to a treatment plan to reduce possible side effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 25 million Americans have asthma.

Various treatments for the condition are available, including long-term and quick relief options. They include:

  • Bronchodilators: These work within minutes to relax the muscles around the airways.
  • Anti-inflammatories: People take these medications alongside an inhaler to reduce swelling and mucus production around the airway.
  • Bronchial thermoplasty:This medical procedure is minimally invasive and provides relief for up to 5 years for people with severe asthma.

Learn more about asthma treatments.

Health experts do not fully know what causes asthma. However, there are ways of managing symptoms and preventing their progression, including:

  • avoiding triggers such as certain smells or chemical products
  • reducing known allergen exposure
  • maintaining a nutritious diet
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • regular exercise

There are other medications that doctors do not recommend for people with asthma.

Aspirin or other pain killers

These are a class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which include ibuprofen and naproxen. People with asthma may experience side effects from taking these medications.

A person should speak with a doctor to discuss possible risks and alternatives.

ACE inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are a group of medications for treating various conditions, such as heart failure and kidney disease.

These medications can trigger asthma symptoms, and doctors often give alternatives to people with asthma.


Doctors use this noncardioselective drug to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Alongside asthma, doctors do not recommend taking this medication if people have:


Nadolol is another example of a noncardioselective beta-blocker. Doctors will prescribe it to treat angina and hypertension.

Nadolol prevents bronchodilation, which is the expansion of the airway passages and increases airway resistance. This drug exacerbates the effect in people with asthma and results in wheezing and shortness of breath.

Labetalol is a beta–blocker medication for treating various heart conditions and high blood pressure. It can worsen symptoms of asthma in people with the condition. However, more research is necessary to understand the risk of taking this medication.

People with asthma should not take this medication unless there is no alternative. A person should always follow instructions from medical professionals.