Bronchial asthma affects millions of people across the globe. The condition is characterized by inflammation of the airways that ultimately causes a greater degree of breathlessness and wheezing. The primary treatment for managing bronchial asthma is respiratory inhalers. These are safe and effective and provide excellent control of this rather distressing condition. Inhaler technique is important and with correct inhaler technique comes good delivery of the drug and an excellent effect on the patient’s symptoms.

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Respiratory Inhalers

Respiratory inhalers are considered to be the best treatment in the management of bronchial asthma. There are different kinds of asthma inhalers that are available and are utilized in managing different types of asthma. For example, in an acute attack of bronchial asthma, patients can develop severe breathlessness and wheeze and are unable to speak in full sentences due to the great degree of inflammation that is present within the airways. The airways get swollen up and patients can struggle a great deal. Such patients benefit from rescue inhalers.

See why respiratory inhalers are considered the best treatment for asthma.


Rescue Inhalers

Role of Respiratory Inhalers in Asthma

Person using a rescue inhaler.

Rescue inhalers are bronchodilator drugs (beta receptor agonists) that exert their effects within seconds to minutes to help open up the airways and allow normal airflow through the lungs. This can help relieve symptoms effectively.

The commonly used rescue inhalers include albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, etc.), levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA) and pirbuterol (Maxair). In addition to this, ipratropium (Atrovent) is another type of inhaler that can help relax the muscles lining the airways, open them up and promote the flow of air into the lungs. This makes the patient’s breathing a lot easier and hence its application in chronic lung disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis along with bronchial asthma is well recognized.

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The medications listed above that are available as inhalers are also available as nebulizer solutions. Nebulizer solutions are placed in a nebulizer device that then converts this solution into steam. This is then inhaled by the patient and once the drug reaches the lungs, it acts on the muscles within the airways and helps open up offering relief to the patient suffering from an attack of asthma. Nebulizers are particularly beneficial in acute management of bronchial asthma. Patients who have poorly controlled asthma or exhibit a poor technique of using an inhaler, nebulizers can be of great benefit. Alternatively, using an inhaler the right way can prevent the requirement of nebulizers.

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Controller Inhalers

In patients who require long-term control of their asthma symptoms, controller inhalers are available. The commonly used controller inhalers include inhaled corticosteroids like fluticasone (Flovent Diskus), budesonide (Pulmicort, Rhinocort), mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler), ciclesonide (Alvesco, Omnaris), flunisolide (Aerobid, Aerospan HFA) and beclomethasone (Qvar, Qnasl). It must be remembered that inhaled corticosteroids do not help in the management of an acute attack and should not be used as rescue inhalers.

In patients who need longer term control of their asthma, long acting beta agonists must be used. These drugs have a prolonged duration of action and keep the airways open for longer. They are used in patients who require rescue inhalers often. The commonly used long acting inhalers include salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil). Long acting inhalers are often taken in combination with steroid inhalers and are available as such. Some examples include fluticasone-salmeterol (Advair Diskus), budesonide-formoterol (Symbicort) and mometasone-formoterol (Dulera).

To see a demonstration of how to use controller inhalers

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Getting the Technique Right

Use-Inhaler's MDI training

Use-Inhaler's MDI training.

Many a time, patients find that they do not get the benefit of inhalers that was told that they would expect. This is primarily because the technique that is used by patients may not be the right one. Having a right technique has a number of different advantages. Primarily, patients who use the inhalers the right way will find that they obtain immediate relief of their symptoms. Furthermore, using inhalers with the appropriate technique means that the number of admissions to hospital with acute breathing problems is limited. It is of primary importance for patients to know how to use inhalers correctly.

Benefits of Inhalers

One of the main benefits of using inhalers is that they are a safe and effective treatment in managing acute and chronic bronchial asthma. They can control symptoms effectively and have very few side-effects when compared to the alternative treatments that are available. These alternative treatments include drugs such as leukotriene modifiers - montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo) which provide relief for up to 24 hours and oral and intravenous corticosteroids such as prednisolone and methylprednisolone which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and reduce inflammation in the airways during attacks of bronchial asthma. These drugs can have long-term side-effects if used on a regular basis.

In-depth Training

In-depth Training

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