FAQ: Inhalers

  • Why to Use a Spacer with a Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI)?

    It can be difficult to use the correct technique with a metered-dose inhaler alone, and it is ideally recommended to use a spacer. A spacer is a tube-like device that attaches to the metered-dose inhaler. It helps deliver the medicine to the airways of the lungs directly instead of the mouth. This helps the medicine work better and lessens the side effects of the inhaled medication.

  • What is a Dry Powder Inhaler?

    A dry-powder inhaler (DPI) is a type of portable inhaler device that can be used to deliver aerosol medications to the lungs. DPIs deliver the medication to the lungs as a very fine powder. DPIs are breath actuated.Which means that DPIs do not contain propellant (the stuff in the pMDI that produces the force to change liquid medication into an aerosol). Instead, the fine powder is drawn from the DPI when you take a quick and deep breath through the DPI. Currently, there are 3 types of dry-powder inhalers: single-dose DPIs, multiple unit-dose DPIs, and multiple dose DPIs.

  • What is an HFA inhaler?

    HFA stands for Hydrofluoroalkane, a propellant used for inhalation. An HFA inhaler is a fast-acting inhaler used in the Asthma treatment. It's the most recent and environmentally safe inhaler. They do not release CFFs (chlorofluorocarbons) that are dangerous for the ozone layers.

  • What are inhalers for?

    • Inhalers are used for the treatment of Asthma, Allergy and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
    • Asthma inhalers are hand-held portable devices that deliver medication to your lungs. A variety of asthma inhalers are available to help control asthma symptoms in adults and children.
    • Aerosols or inhalers usually propel a drug at a great speed. The particle size is usually very small and the medicine is pushed into the respiratory system along with the inhaler air to reach the bronchial tree and work on the muscles.
    • The different types of asthma inhalers come in various colors and shapes for different uses. Each color usually denotes a different medication, For example the famous blue inhaler (Ventolin) is an inhaler using salbutamol to treat asthma.
    • The commonly used inhalers are Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), MDIs with a spacer or holding chamber and dry powder inhalers.
    • Metered dose inhalers MDI: These inhalers consist of a pressurized canister containing medication that fits into a boot-shaped plastic mouthpiece. With most metered dose inhalers, medication is released by pushing the canister into the boot.
    • MDI with Spacers: A spacer holds medication after it's released, making it easier to inhale the full dose.
    • Dry powder inhalers DPI: These inhalers don't use a chemical propellant to push the medication out of the inhaler. Instead, the medication is released by breathing in a deep, fast breath.
  • What is an inhaler?

    • An inhaler is a medical device that administers medication to the lungs in an aerosolized form.
    • There are 2 types of inhalers — pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs). Both types of inhalers are very convenient and may be carried around in your purse or pocket and used anywhere.
    • It is mainly used in the treatment of asthma and Chronic (COPD). The drug inside an inhaler goes straight into the airways when you breathe in.
    • This means that you need a much smaller dose than if you were to take the drug as a tablet or liquid by mouth.
    • The airways and lungs are treated, but little of the drug gets into the rest of the body.
  • Are Asthma inhalers safe?

    Inhalers are essential part of Asthma treatment, they offer the advantage of delivering the medicine right into the respiratory airways. Unlike the oral medication, the inhaled medicines do not reach other parts of body. It means that the side effects of the treatment are minimal. It is safe to use inhaler as prescribed by your doctor.


    Dr. Rakesh Gupta M.D
    Director of Sleep Disorders Center, Providence, RI.