Drug Safety

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 143–164

Drug-Induced Respiratory Disorders

Incidence, Prevention and Management
  • Liubov (Louba) Ben-Noun
Review Article


Various drugs are associated with adverse respiratory disorders (ARDs) ranging in severity from mild, moderate to severe and even fatal. Cardioselective and nonselective β-blockers, calcium antagonists and dipyridamole can induce asthma. ACE inhibitors are mainly associated with cough. Amiodarone is related to a form of interstitial pneumonitis (IP) which can be fatal, tocainidine and flecainidine to a form of IP, and hydrochlorothiazide to a form of IP and pulmonary oedema. Antiasthmatic drugs can be associated with a paradoxical bronchospasm, while leukotriene antagonists are linked to the development of Churg-Strauss syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) may induce asthma. Gold is mainly related to IP, penicillamine to IP, systemic lupus erythematosus, bronchiolitis obliterans, and Goodpasture’s syndrome.

Acute respiratory reactions to nitrofurantoin include dyspnoea, cough, IP, and pleural effusion while IP and fibrosis are common in chronic reactions. Other antibacterials mainly evoke pneumonitis, pulmonary infiltrates and eosinophilia, and bronchiolitis obliterans. ARDs are similar for most categories of cytotoxic agents, with chronic pneumonitis and fibrosis being the most common. Noncardiogenic pulmonary oedema occurs as the most common respiratory complication in opioid agonist addiction. Psychotropic drugs such as phenothiazides, butyrophenones and tricyclic antidepressants can also induce pulmonary oedema. Oral contraceptives may produce asthma exacerbation, while long termuse and/or high doses of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy increase the risk of asthma. Bromocriptine is mainly associated with pleural effusion, while methysergide is usually associated with pleural effusion and fibrosis. Some anorectic agents have been linked to the development of primary pulmonary hypertension.

The possibility of the occurrence of ARDs should be taken into account in each individual patient. Although in most cases the adverse effects are unpredictable, they can be reduced to aminimumor prevented if some drugs are avoided or stopped in time.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liubov (Louba) Ben-Noun
    • 1
  1. 1.Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Faculty for Health Sciences, Department of Family MedicineKiryat-GatIsrael

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