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For people with asthma, bronchodilators or inhalers are life-savers. Bronchodilators are medications that help the muscle bands relax when they tighten around the airways. They basically open the airway so that more air move in and out of the lungs. To put it simply, inhalers help you breathe more easily when you’re having asthma attacks.

A variety of inhalers are available in the market and it’s important that you know what’s best for you in order to effectively control your asthma symptoms. To find the best inhaler for your asthma, you have to know the correct medication and the type of inhaler that suits your needs. Before purchasing an inhaler, it’s better that you ask your doctor or any healthcare provider which type of inhaler can help you prevent or treat asthma attacks.

There are two main types of asthma inhalers that people normally use: Metered-Dose Inhalers and Dry Powder Inhaler. Which one is best for you?

Metered-Dose Inhalers

Inhaled respiratory medications are usually taken by a device called a metered-dose inhaler or MDI. The MDI is a pressurized canister of medicine in a plastic holder with a mouthpiece. When sprayed, it gives a reliable, consistent dose of medication. It is commonly used to treat breathing difficulties related to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory illnesses.

One type of metered-dose inhaler releases medication automatically when you inhale it. There are even MDIs that have counters so that the patient will know how many doses remain. For those who use MDIs that don’t have counters, you’ll have to track the number of doses that you’ve used so that you’ll know when to purchase one when your medication runs low.

It is important that you use your inhaler correctly in order to receive the right amount of medicine. Here are the steps in using your metered-dose inhalers:

  • Remove the cap and hold the inhaler in an upright position.
  • Depending on what your doctor recommends, you have an option to use a spacer. It protects your throat from irritation from the medicine when you inhale it.
  • Stand or sit up straight and shake the inhaler.
  • Slowly tilt your head back slightly and put the inhaler in your mouth.
  • Press the inhaler to release the medicine and start breathing slowly. Breathe in slowly for 3-5 seconds.
  • For the inhaler to go deeply into your lungs, hold your breath for 10 seconds. Then breathe out slowly.
  • Repeat puffs as advised by your doctor. Wait for at least a minute before you take the second puff.

Dry Powder Inhaler

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a dry powder inhaler (DPI) is a type of inhaler that is commonly used to deliver medications such as inhaled corticosteroids into the lungs. This type of medication is breath-activated. Unlike the metered-dose inhaler where you have to push the medication into your lungs, dry powder inhalers release medicine when you take a fast, deep breath in through the inhaler. There are multiple-dose devices that can hold up to 200 doses and there are those that are single dosed, which you can fill with a capsule before each treatment.

Dry powder inhalers come in different shapes and sizes. For some, you need to add the medicine to the inhaler each time you use it while there are other dry powder inhalers that come with a supply of medicine already in them. Here are the steps on how to use a dry powder inhaler correctly:

  • Remove the inhaler cap, if there is one.
  • Add a dose of medicine as instructed by your doctor.
  • Tilt your head back a little, and slowly breathe out. Hold the inhaler away from your mouth while you breathe out. It is important to remember to not breathe out into the inhaler as this can blow some of the powder medicine out of the inhaler.
  • Place the inhaler’s mouthpiece in your mouth. Inhale quickly and through your mouth for 2 or 3 seconds. After you have inhaled the powder, take the inhaler out of your mouth.
  • Hold your breath for 10 seconds and let the medicine settle in your lungs. Follow these steps when you take a second dose.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the type of asthma inhaler that best meets your needs is important to effectively control your asthma symptoms. To know more about what kind of inhaler you should use, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. Dr. Paul Jantzi is a board-certified allergist and immunologist, provides allergy treatments in Texas with office locations in Bastrop, Brenham, College Station, Columbus, Giddings, and La Grange. Schedule a meeting with him and let him help you with all of your allergy and asthma-related issues.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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