Inhalers for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

An inhaler is a device holding a medicine that you take by breathing in (inhaling). Inhalers are often used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Although nebulizers are frequently used to deliver COPD treatment, particularly to less mobile patients, most current designs are bulky and inconvenient, and treatment times are long. Therefore, they are better categorized as fall-back devices for most COPD patients. They are not true competitors to pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs) for outpatient use.

In the treatment of COPD, the drugs inside inhalers can be grouped into short-acting bronchodilators, long-acting bronchodilators and steroids. There are also combination inhalers containing two types of drugs.

Short-acting bronchodilator inhalers
An inhaler with a bronchodilator medicine is often prescribed. These relax the muscles in the airways (bronchi) to open them up (dilate them) as wide as possible.

Long-acting bronchodilator inhalers
These work in a similar way to the short-acting inhalers, but each dose lasts at least 12 hours. Long-acting bronchodilators may be an option if symptoms remain troublesome despite taking a short-acting bronchodilator.

Steroid inhalers
A steroid inhaler may help in addition to a bronchodilator inhaler if you have more severe COPD or regular flare-ups (exacerbations) of symptoms.

A variety of inhaler devices are now available to deliver inhaled drugs to patients with COPD. The inhaled drug delivery field is a dynamic one, with many inhalers available already and new ones being introduced on a regular basis.

The plethora of inhaler devices available, requiring different inhalation techniques for optimal drug delivery, may confuse patients and healthcare providers and so there should be a quality educational tool to train patients on correct use of inhaler techniques and the tool should be capable enough to provide reinforced training to the patients and to the health care professionals on timely basis with real time feedback for better understanding and participation from patients.

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