What're asthma inhalers?
Most asthma drugs are inhaled using special devices or nebulizers. The standard inhalers have used ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons as propellants, but alternative delivery methods and propellants are increasingly available that do not threaten the environment and may even be better in delivering the drugs. Many asthma medications can be administered orally or by inhalation. Metered-dose inhalers (MDI’s) are the most widely used method, but dry powder inhalers are
becoming popular. Metered-dose inhalers are changing from the type propelled by liquified chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to a new, CFC-free delivery system. Nebulizer therapy is reserved for patients who are unable to use MDI’s because of difficulties with coordination. Inhalers have transformed asthma treatment. They enable children and adults with asthma to deliver medicine directly to their lungs nearly anytime and anywhere. A variety of inhalers are available to help relieve or control asthma symptoms. Two common types include dry powder inhalers and metered-dose inhalers.
Metered-Dose Inhaler. The standard device for administering asthma medication has been the metered-dose inhaler (MDI). Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) are the most common delivery system used today. This device allows precise doses to be delivered directly to the lungs. To use an MDI, the patient first exhales completely, then places the MDI to the lips, forms a seal around the mouthpiece, and presses on the top of the canister to deliver a measured dose of medication while slowly inhaling. After inhaling slowly, the patient holds his or her breath for a full 10 seconds. Many devices now use propellants (e.g., hydrofluoroalkane) that are equally effective to CFCs and are environmentally safe. They also do not chill the device as CFCs do. Some of the non-CFC inhalers (such as Respimat, which uses a soft-mist spray) may be more effective at delivering medications than the new dry-powder inhalers. MDI-delivered drugs must be used regularly as prescribed and the patient carefully trained in their use in order for them to be effective and safe. Some patients hold the MDI too close to their mouths, or even inside them; others may exhale too forcefully before inhalation. Often, the devices continue to deliver propellant after the drug has been used up. Patients should track their medicine and throw the device away when the last dose has been administered.
Dry Powder Inhalers. Dry powder inhalers (DPIs) deliver a powdered form of medications directly into the lungs and do not threaten the environment. Such devices include Rotahaler, Spinhaler, Turbohaler, Clickhaler, Easyhaler, Diskhaler, Discus, Twisthaler, Spiros, and others. DPIs are as effective as the older devices, and generally have a better taste and are easier to manage. They may differ among themselves, however, in their ability to deliver drugs into the airways. In one study, for example, the Turbohaler was easier to use than the Diskhaler and so achieved better delivery. The Discus is another effective DPI; it has a dose counter and protects against exhalation effects. More research is needed. Dry powder inhalers are used in patients under 5 years of age. A variety of these are available for specific medications, including beta2 agonists and corticosteroids. They work similarly to breath-actuated MDIs. The patient exhales, then forms seal with the lips around the inhalation port. Unlike breath-actuated MDIs, however, the patient must inhale rapidly. After inhaling deeply, the patient holds his or her breath for 10 seconds. Not all medications are available in dry powder inhaler form. Another disadvantage is that medication can be lost if one accidentally exhales into the device. Humidity or extreme temperatures can effect their performance, so they should not be stored in humid places (e.g., bathroom cabinets) or locations subject to high temperatures (e.g., glove compartments during summer months).
More information on asthma
What is asthma? - Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest.
What types of asthma are there? - Types of asthma include child-onset asthma, adult-onset asthma, exercise-induced asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, nocturnal asthma.
What's bronchial asthma? - Bronchial asthma is a disease of the lungs in which an obstructive ventilation disturbance of the respiratory passages evokes a feeling of shortness of breath.
What is exercise-induced asthma? - Exercise-induced asthma is a form of asthma that some people have during or after physical activity. Exercise-induced asthma is common.
What is adult-onset asthma? - Adult onset asthma generally is the onset of asthma for the first time in someone of middle age or older. Adult-onset asthma develops after age 20.
What is status asthmaticus? - Status asthmaticus is a severe asthma episode that does not respond to standard treatment. Status asthmaticus is caused by severe bronchospasm.
What causes asthma? - Asthma is caused by inhaling an allergen that sets off the chain of biochemical and tissue changes leading to airway inflammation, bronchoconstriction, and wheezing.
What're the asthma triggers? - Many risk factors have been linked to triggering asthma attacks. There are two basic types of asthma triggers, allergic triggers, non-allergic triggers.
Asthma and allergy - Asthma attacks (worsening of asthma symptoms) can be triggered by allergies. Allergy is the leading cause of asthma.
What is an asthma attack? - An asthma attack occurs when the small and medium-sized airways become inflamed and constricted after being exposed to a trigger.
Asthma in children - Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood. Asthma symptoms can interfere with many school activities for children.
Asthma and pregnancy - During pregnancy, asthma or asthma episodes will become worse for an estimated one-third of pregnant women, particularly women who have severe asthma.
Asthma in adults and older people - Identifying asthma in the elderly can be difficult because asthma symptoms can be confused with symptoms of heart or lung diseases.
What're the complications of asthma? - Uncontrolled asthma in pregnant women puts them at higher risk for complications that can include early labor, hypertension, gestational diabetes.
What are the symptoms of asthma? - The symptoms of asthma include labored breathing, constriction of the chest, coughing and gasping usually brought on by allergies.
What're the warning signs of asthma? - Most people with asthma have warning signs before symptoms appear. There are many warning signs of an asthma episode.
How is asthma diagnosed? - The diagnosis of asthma is made on the basis of typical symptoms and signs. Positive allergy tests support a diagnosis of asthma.
What're the treatments for asthma? - Treatment of asthma is aimed at avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants and controlling symptoms and airway inflammation through medication.
What quick relief (rescue) medications cure asthma? - Short-acting beta-agonists are the most commonly used asthma rescue medications. Anticholinergics are another class of asthma drugs.
Long-term asthma control medications - Combinations of steroids and other medications are effective for both treating and preventing asthma attacks in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
What're asthma inhalers? - Most asthma drugs are inhaled using special devices or nebulizers. Two common types include dry powder asthma inhalers and metered-dose asthma inhalers.
What're asthma nebulizers? - Asthma nebulizers can be used with all classes of inhaled medications but are most commonly used with short-acting beta2 agonists and ipratropium bromide.
How to control acute asthma attacks? - Acute asthma is an acute exacerbation of wheezing, unresponsive to usually effective therapy and necessitating care in an emergency room or hospital ward.
How to manage chronic asthma symptoms? - The aims of management are to recognize asthma, to abolish symptoms, to restore normal or best possible long term airway function.
What asthma relievers are available? - Asthma reliever is a drug that provides relief from asthma symptoms and is the most commonly used asthma medication.
What asthma preventers are available? - Asthma preventers are to be used twice a day regardless of whether your child has symptoms of asthma.
What's the treatment for childhood asthma? - The goals of asthma therapy are to prevent child from having chronic and troublesome symptoms, to maintain child's lung function.
What's the treatment for asthma in the elderly? - Diagnosis and treatment of asthma can be more complicated in people age 65 and older than in those who are younger.
What can be done to prevent asthma? - Avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants can reduce asthma symptoms. People with asthma should minimize risk for respiratory tract infections.