Inhalers are very popular, lifesaving medications for many who are suffering from asthma and other lung conditions. Knowing about the different types of inhalers and how to use them effectively is very important in controlling the conditions. An asthma inhaler is ideal to deliver the medication for the condition straight into the lungs and airways. This helps to alleviate the symptoms sooner. Moreover, inhalers have very few side effects.
Inhalers are used to deliver drugs in a number of ways:
- Metered dose inhalers – Or MDIs is the one in which the medication is delivered through a small canister. As the inhaler is pushed down, the chemical propellant present in the canister pushes the drug into the mouth. It is then inhaled directly to the airways. Some people prefer to use a spacer as it makes the use of the inhaler more convenient. Spacers help to hold the medications until the person can breathe it in.
- Dry powder inhalers or DPIs – This method delivers the medications after quick and deep breathe with the inhaler. When compared to the other methods, this inhaler may be not so easy to use during an attack. This is because many people find it difficult to take a deep and full breath during an attack. The recommendations for the use of DPIs may vary considerably and it is better to follow the instructions given in the label for using it effectively.
- Nebulizers – In this method the drug is delivered using a mask or mouthpiece. The mouthpiece allows normal breathing and this ensures effective drug delivery even in children who are not able to use MDIs and DPIs during an asthma attack.
Most of the inhalers contain anti-inflammatory medications or bronchodilators for relieving the symptoms. Some of the inhalers may contain a combination of the two.
Anti-inflammatory medications are effective in preventing the inflammation and reducing the production of mucus in the airways. They are also useful in preventing further asthma attacks.
Bronchodilators can be of two types – short-acting or long-acting. These drugs are useful in relieving symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Some of the common bronchodilators used in inhalers include short-acting beta agonists, long-acting beta agonists, albuterol, and ipratropium.
There are a few tips to use the inhaler correctly:
- Remove the cap and shake the inhaler
- Hold the inhaler and breathe out completely
- Tilt the head back and press the metal canister while beginning to inhale
- Breathe in and hold the breath for few seconds
- Repeat the step for each puff