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How are inhalers helpful in an asthma attack?


Inhalers are considered the first line of asthma treatment because they can administer medication directly to the lungs and they are the most commonly utilised device for asthma treatment. Inhalers have been around for a long time and have changed and advanced over time. And along this time, inhalers have proved to be the most reliable method of treatment, whether it be for long term asthma plans or short ones.

How do Inhalers Work?

There are multiple inhaler types and all of them work on slightly different mechanisms.

  1. Pressurized Metered-Dose Inhalers- This is the most commonly used inhaler, which consists of a pressurised canister containing medication mixed with aerosol propellants that are released as a spray when a button is pressed. Metered-dose inhalers are often known as inhaler pumps or asthma pumps since they function similarly to a pump.
  2. Dry Powder Inhalers- In terms of how medication is delivered, dry powder inhalers differ greatly from metered-dose inhalers. Instead of using an aerosol, these inhalers use a dry powder form of the medication that can be inhaled which reduces the coordination requirement, making it easier to use.
  3. Breath-Actuated Inhalers- Inhalers that release medication when you breathe in are known as breath-actuated inhalers. Simply breathe in to activate the breath-activated metered-dose inhaler, which will then release the medication.

Any and all the types of inhalers mentioned above must only be used under a doctor’s recommendation along with the prescribed medication and advised dosage.

What are Rescue or Reliever Inhalers for Asthma?

A rescue inhaler is an inhaler that dispenses specific medication used to relieve or prevent the symptoms of an asthma attack. It is equipped with fast-acting pain relievers. Since rescue inhalers take little to no time to start working, they are recommended for situations when breathing becomes difficult unexpectedly.

In 15 to 20 minutes, a good rescue inhaler can relieve most symptoms. The medication’s effects usually last between four to six hours. A rescue inhaler can be taken before any vigorous activity to prevent an asthma attack from taking place.

How are Rescue Inhalers different from Controller Inhalers?

While rescue inhalers are meant to provide instant relief, controlled inhalers, also known as maintenance inhalers, are used in a more long-term asthma plan. If used regularly, under guidance of a healthcare professional, a controlled inhaler can keep symptoms in check, greatly reduce the risk of an attack, and also reduce the severity of symptoms, if any. Following a correct controller medication regimen can dramatically improve your conditions over time, so make sure you don’t miss any doses and get the most out of your treatment and manage your asthma symptoms effectively.

Considering these differences, rescue and controlled inhalers are separately categorized into short- and long-acting bronchodilators, both of which relieve asthma symptoms by relaxing the airway muscles. If you don’t have severe symptoms, you may be able to control your condition without the usage of rescue inhalers. However, it is still a good idea to keep rescue asthma inhalers handy, as they can help prevent serious asthma attacks and can be life savers, in some situations.

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