Types of Asthma Inhalers

Using Inhalers for Asthma

Inhaler medications are currently among the most effective solutions for the purpose of asthma treatment. Oral drugs, injections and other drug delivery methods cannot produce the desired effect to such a degree as inhaler medications do, since they are able to successfully treat asthma symptoms without putting too much strain on the body. As you may know, by properly using a spray from an inhaler you will be able to deliver the medication straight into the lungs or on the back or the throat, depending on the medication being used and symptoms or condition being treated.

The Main Types of Asthma Inhalers

The modern medical society has distinguished several primary types of asthma inhalers in order to fully cover the needs of asthma treatment.

These types are:

"Reliever" Inhalers

Short-term, quick acting, otherwise called "rescue" or "emergency" inhalers, intended for instant symptom relief; they often used to stop an imminent asthma attack. These devices provide a very efficient solution in case of emergency, but they lack any cumulative positive impact on the patient's condition and their effect is only temporary. "Reliever" inhalers work by relaxing the soft muscles around the airways, allowing more air to get in and out of the lungs. The drugs that work this way are called bronchodilators. The most common type of medications in this group carries the name short-acting beta agonists (SABA) - they are used in the vast majority of quick-acting inhalers. The best way to use a "reliever" inhaler is to apply the spray as soon as you notice the gradual worsening of symptoms, such as cough, tightness or pain in the chest, shortness of breath and trouble inhaling, or if a wheezing or hissing sound heard upon exhale.

"Controller" Inhalers

Long-term treatment "preventer" type inhalers for asthma, designed for extended therapy aimed at preventing the development of symptoms in the future and reducing their severity. Given time, these inhalers alone may act to prevent most of the asthma symptoms, but they will not treat them immediately. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be prescribed with different types of long-acting asthma medications, with inhaled corticosteroids for asthma being among the most common solutions. These medications include:

  • Long-acting beta-agonists (LABA)
  • Inhaled corticosteroids for asthma
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Theophylline

Combination Inhalers

Combination-type inhalers, which possess the qualities of both of the above mentioned types. They may be preferred in some cases because of their convenience and overall reduced risk to the patient’s health, but they still have their drawbacks. When used on a regular basis, these drugs will deliver their effects quicker since they often contain a quick-acting bronchodilator, meaning you will feel an improvement in symptoms at a much faster rate than from other long-term treatment options. However, if you use these drugs to frequently help with acute immediate symptoms, you may receive an unintended overdose of steroids or other long-term treatment components of the drug, which may result in worsening of your symptoms.