Asthma inhalers are portable and handheld devices that are used in the treatment of respiratory problems, especially in asthma. These inhalers help to control acute symptoms of asthma in both, children and adults.
A variety of inhalers are available in the market from which some have better medication delivery systems. Therefore, it is necessary to find right inhalers that deliver medicines in a better and effective way to prevent asthmatic symptoms or treating acute attacks of asthma.
Types of asthma inhalers:
Metered dose inhalers
In these types of inhalers, medicine is contained in a pressurized metallic container known as canister and it is fitted into a plastic mouthpiece that looks like a boot. When a person needs medication, s/he needs to push the canister into the mouthpiece, which releases the medicine in the mouth.
These inhalers are also known as pressurized metered dose inhalers.
This type has two subtypes – one is puffers and second one is autohalers. In puffers, medication is released when you push the canister and in autohalers, device senses when you breathe through the mouthpiece and medication is released automatically.
- It can be used with a spacer.
- It is available in all types – preventer, reliever and in combination of medications.
- It may be difficult to tell if it gets empty, but some inhalers come with counters that tell us how many doses are used or left.
- If inhaler does not have counter, you have to track the number of the uses, so that you can analyze if the inhaler is low on medication.
Metered dose inhaler with a spacer
These are metered dose inhalers, as explained above, but in these, when medicine is released, a spacer holds the dose and you need to inhale.
- In it, medication goes into the spacer, which makes it easier to take the full dose of medicine conveniently and slowly.
- You have enough time to inhale the medication, so it increases the delivery amount of medicine into the lungs rather than some part remaining in the throat.
- Combinations of medicines are available in this type of inhalers.
- In many spacers a counter is given—it tells us how many doses are left.
- It is good for young children and people with short breath strength.
- It may be less convenient for keeping it with you all the time.
Dry powder inhaler
Dry powder inhalers need a deep breath in to release the medication. There are two types—dry powder tube inhaler and powder disk inhaler. The powder disk inhaler is also available for single dose.
- Dry powder inhalers are small and convenient to carry.
- It is available in all types of reliever, preventer and confirmation of medicines.
- These inhalers require a deep and fast breath.
- They are not suitable for children use or people with short breath strength.
- Spacer cannot be used with a dry powder inhaler.
- If you breathe out accidently, medication may blow away.
- It may not deliver medication properly if powder sticks to the tongue or throat, or in the presence of high humidity.
A nebulizer is a dispensing machine, which turns the liquid medicine into an aerosol (like fine mist). Generally, it is used in emergency rooms to deliver short acting bronchodilators into the lungs during breathing difficulties or an acute attack of asthma.
A facemask is used on the face, covering the mouth. Then you have to breathe through it and medication’s fine mist goes to the lungs. The process of mobilization is no more effective than conventional asthma inhalers, but it is used in the patients with fatigue or during breathlessness when the patient cannot inhale the medication through conventional inhalers.
- Emergency use when the patient cannot get medication through normal inhalers.
- Larger doses can be delivered quickly with a nebulizer.
- No coordination is required.
- Not convenient to carry
- Treatment with nebulizer takes longer time as compared to normal inhalers.
- It is more expensive than normal inhalers.
Other types of inhalers based on use and medication:
Preventer or preventive inhalers are used to reduce the recurrence of asthma attacks in severe cases. These inhalers reduce the inflammation and swelling of the airways, thus, help to decrease the sensitivity for triggers or pollens.
- It does not mean that every person with asthma needs preventers. It depends on the severity and risk factor involved.
- Preventive inhalers do not provide quick relief, for immediate relief you need to use rescue inhalers, but preventers need to decrease the long-term inflammation of the airways.
- These inhalers usually contain a steroid medicine in lower doses.
Rescue inhalers or reliever inhalers:
When you feel intense symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing and chest congestion, you may need to get help from rescue inhalers. Reliever inhalers are used for getting a quick and immediate relief from symptoms. Medicines contained in these inhalers are generally beta-agonist bronchodilators that relax the narrowed airways quickly.
- Used in acute attacks of asthma.
- Provides quick and immediate relief.
- If you have to use a reliever inhaler more than three times a week, then you need to re-visit your doctor, because your asthma is not well controlled.