How Do Asthma Inhalers Work
This video explains how asthma inhalers work:
Just as a summary really quick I go through it here.
The main problem with asthma is a narrow airway, that is preventing decent airflow and preventing proper air removal from the lungs. This occurs via two way, 1) the airways are narrowing and 2) the airway are getting inflammed and thicker. Both together, decrease the space needed for proper airflow.
How Do Asthma Treatments Work
Asthma treatments work in these ways:
Bronchodilators can be short- or long-acting. If you use short-acting bronchodilators more than two days a week, talk with your doctor about your asthma control. You may need to make changes to your treatment plan to better control your asthma.
Anti-inflammatories come in many different forms. They are also called controllers because they help to control or prevent asthma symptoms. They reduce swelling and extra mucus inside the airways. They will not relieve sudden symptoms.
Other Types of Medicines and Treatments
Single Maintenance and Reliever Therapy
The 2020 Focused Updates to the Asthma Management Guidelines recommends single maintenance and reliever therapy, also known as SMART. SMART uses one inhaler that has two medicines as a quick-relief and controller medicine. When on SMART, you can either take your medicine only as needed to relieve sudden symptoms, or you can take it daily as a controller and as needed for quick relief. This is based on your age and the severity of your asthma.
Advice For Friends And Family
Its important that your friends and family know how to help in an emergency.
It can be useful to make copies of your personal asthma action plan and share it with others who may need to know what to do when you have an attack.
You can photocopy your existing plan, or you could download a blank personal asthma action plan from Asthma UK and fill it in for anyone who might need a copy.
Or you could take a photo of your action plan on your phone, so you can show or send it to others easily.
Page last reviewed: 19 April 2021 Next review due: 19 April 2024
Don’t Miss: Can You Join The Army If You Have Asthma
How To Control Asthma Without An Inhaler
Asthma is a common disease that affects the respiratory system of the patients and causes wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulties. Asthma is caused by an exaggerated reaction of the immune system. In asthmatics, the immune system has a severe reaction to normal stimuli such as cold air, dust or pollen. This causes inflammation and swelling in the airways that end in the symptoms of asthma.
Take albuterol pills. Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-2 agonists. Albuterol is normally ingested in an inhaled form, but it can also be prescribed orally as albuterol sulfate . Albuterol works by relaxing the airways, helping to relieve some of the symptoms of asthma.
Take theophylline. Theophylline is a medication that can be taken as a daily pill. It works helping to control asthma. It works by relaxing the muscles around the airways, helping them to remain open.
Take oral corticosteroids. Asthma is caused by an overactive immune system. Corticosteroids act by repressing it. They are prescribed as an aerosol, but they can also be prescribed orally in the form of pills.
Get an injection of immunotherapy. Many asthmatics have symptoms caused by allergies. Allergies can be suppressed by using some injectable drugs that include omalizumab and others. These medications are usually administered every few months by a doctor.
What Do Corticosteroids Do
Corticosteroids are naturally produced in the body, but synthetic versions are used as an anti-inflammatory medicine to treat a range of inflammatory illnesses.
Listed by the World Health Organization as an essential medicine, they are often prescribed for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases in the form of an inhaler. They reduce inflammation and are seen as essential for controlling the condition.
Corticosteroids represent one of two main types of treatment for asthmatics. They are designed to prevent an asthma attack from occurring in the first place by reducing the base level of inflammation. The second type of treatment, bronchodilators, are designed to relax the muscles when an attack does happen.
While corticosteroids are readily available and inexpensive in some parts of the world, this is not always the case for low- and middle-income countries, where access to such drugs can be limited, according to the 2018 Global Asthma Report.
How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
You May Like: How To Calm Down Asthma Symptoms
Safety And Extra Preventer Medication For Asthma
People who use a regular preventer , but still get regular asthma symptoms, may need to step up their medication.
These stronger preventers are called combination therapies because they include a second medicine and the inhaled corticosteroid. Asthma preventers should be prescribed at the lowest strength that works for you or your child. There is no extra benefit in taking medication that is stronger than you need.
During An Asthma Attack
In a sudden asthma attack you can use your inhaler more and take up to 10 puffs. Wait 30 seconds and always shake the inhaler between doses. You can repeat this dose 10 minutes later.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A& E now if you or your child:
- are struggling to breathe
- have asthma symptoms that are not getting better
Asthma attacks can get worse very quickly.
For treating severe asthma attacks, salbutamol can be given through a nebuliser. A nebuliser is a machine that delivers the medicine as a mist inhaled through a face mask. This will probably be given to you by your doctor.
Don’t Miss: Can You Join The Army If You Have Asthma
To Use Your Puffer With A Spacer:
Practicing Buteyko Breathing Technique
This is also a system of breathing exercises. Buteyko Breathing Technique focuses on breathing out through the nose and not the mouth. Breathing out through the mouth can dry up the mouth and the airways very fast resulting in more problems. Practising and using BBT also makes you less prone to suffering from respiratory infections. Buteyko Breathing Technique can also be instrumental in decreasing your asthma symptoms with the help of slow and gentle breathing through the nose.
Also Check: Inflammatory Mediators In Asthma
Using A Spacer With The Inhaler
If you or your child find it difficult to use an inhaler, your doctor may give you a spacer to use with it.
A spacer is a large metal or plastic container with a mouthpiece and a hole for the inhaler. When used with the inhaler it makes it easier to get the right amount of salbutamol into the lungs.
Spacers are especially useful for giving salbutamol to young children.
Your doctor, pharmacist or nurse can show you how to use a spacer with the inhaler.
Recommended Reading: Side Effects Of Nebulizer
How To Survive An Asthma Attack If Youre Caught Without Your Inhaler
If you have asthma, you probably never go anywhere without your inhaler. But what if, due to negligence, you go out without it and have a sudden asthma attack?
The importance of always carrying rescue medication cannot be understated, says associate professor Loo Chian Min, head and senior consultant, Department of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine, Singapore General Hospital . It is absolutely vital that you dont forget your inhaler wherever you go.
What happens during an asthma attackAsthma occurs when the airways in the lungs become inflamed and are blocked by mucus, making breathing difficult. The chest tightens and the lungs seem to produce a wheezing sound.
There could be many triggers for an asthma attack.Air pollution, exposure to irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke and pet dander, physical exertion and emotional outbursts can all trigger an asthma attack.
Related article: How well do you control your asthma? Take the test!
Six things to do if caught without an inhaler during an asthma attackNever, ever let up on your asthma medications even if you feel your condition has improved, says Loo. Asthma needs constant care and proper management at all times. Your very life depends on it.
However, should you be caught without your inhaler due to unforeseen circumstances, you could try these coping techniques:
Stop whatever you are doing and sit upright. Bending over or lying down can constrict your breathing even more.
Take long, deep breaths
Recommended Reading: Can Allergies Cause Asthma Attacks
How Do Inhalers Help With Asthma
While you do your best each day to avoid the triggers that might kickstart your asthma symptoms, you cant always prepare for everything. For instance, you might engage in physical activity thats more vigorous than predicted. The air quality around you might suddenly and unexpectedly change due to smoke, or other irritants.
During those times, it helps to have an inhaler. Inhalers are a medical treatment that can treat your airways, so you can breathe and avoid a more serious asthmatic episode. If youre already having such an episode, an inhaler can get your breathing back on a more even level.
Not all inhalers are the same, and depending on your age, health and lifestyle, you will be prescribed one over another by your allergist. In this article, well discuss the various kinds of inhalers as well as how they help manage symptoms.
See related: Asthma Attacks: Triggers and Treatments
What To Do If You Have An Asthma Attack And Dont Have Your Rescue Inhaler
As a person with asthma, I do my best to ensure I have my rescue inhaler with me at all times because having an asthma attack and no inhaler can be problematic. In fact, I have a rescue inhaler stashed in several places in my car, in my purse, at my house. This way if I have an asthma attack, my inhaler is generally within reach. Theoretically.
However, we all know that things happen. Life happens. When I was working as a floor nurse, a cleaning product being used by the housekeeper sent me into an asthma attack.
My inhaler was in my purse, which was in my locker. You would think that working on a nursing unit, Id have an albuterol inhaler readily available, but that was not the case.
It was a very busy night and I thought to myself, Ill answer one more call right before grabbing my inhaler., Ill give one more medication.
Before I knew it, my wheezing was so severe that my manager could hear me from her office and she wheeled me to the ER. I spent the remainder of my shift there before the physician sent me home, prednisone prescription in hand.
I learned my lesson that night I need a back-up plan for when my inhaler is not readily available.
Recommended Reading: Can You Join The Army If You Have Asthma
Preventer Medication For Asthma
Preventer medication makes the airways less sensitive and reduces inflammation and swelling. It needs to be taken as prescribed, over the long term, to be most effective in reducing the risk and severity of any flare-ups.Most preventer medication for asthma is inhaled corticosteroid. Because the medication goes straight to your lungs where it is needed, the risk of side effects from taking inhaled steroids is very low.
Most adults with asthma can achieve good control of their asthma symptoms with a low dose of inhaled corticosteroid.
What Is An Asthma Attack
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrower than normal and can cause difficulty breathing.
The severity of an asthma attack can range from mild to very serious. Some asthma attacks may require prompt medical attention.
The preferred way of treating an asthma attack is to use a rescue inhaler, which contains medication that expands your airways.
But what if youre having an asthma attack and dont have your rescue inhaler available? There are several things that you can do while you wait for your symptoms to subside or for medical attention. Read on to learn more.
You May Like: What Happens If You Smoke Weed With Asthma
Don’t Miss: How To Make A Homemade Inhaler For Asthma
Should I Be Using A Spacer
Asthma Canada recommends that anyone, of any age, who is using a puffer should consider using a spacer. A pharmacist, respiratory therapist, asthma educator, or doctor can assess how you use your puffer and will recommend the best device for you.
It is recommended that children use a spacer device with their puffer.
Spacers should not be used with dry powder inhalers only with puffer-style devices. Puffers with either a rectangular or a round mouthpiece should be able to fit into a spacer ask your healthcare provider for a demonstration if you are unsure how to set it up.
Does It Work Like An Inhaler
The concept of an inhaler and a nebulizer is the same. They both work to deliver treatment directly into the lungs. In terms of function, a portable nebulizer works similarly to an inhaler. However, some differences in usage differentiate the two.
The most common type of inhaler involves inhaling a given amount of medication using a mouthpiece. The spacers in inhalers make it easy for patients to inhale the required amount of medication.
The main difference between an inhaler and a nebulizer is that a nebulizer is easier to use. It delivers medication easier compared to an inhaler. However, the user has to sit still for about 10 minutes for the medication to be dispensed.
Whilst there are portable nebulizers, they are relatively larger than inhalers, thus, making them difficult to carry around.
Recommended Reading: Can You Join The Army If You Have Asthma
Tips For Parents And Carers Of Children With Asthma
All the above tips also apply to children, but useful tips to help your child manage their asthma include:
- Generally, your child can take their preventer medication before and after school.
- As your child gets older, involve them in decisions about their asthma medications and management.
- Linking asthma medication to your childs own goals can help. For instance, a child who loves sports may take asthma medication more readily if they know it helps them participate.
How To Use An Mdi Inhaler With A Spacer
- Put the inhaler into the spacer.
- Shake it for 5 seconds.
- Hold the inhaler up with your index finger on top and your thumb underneath to support it. Use the other hand to hold the spacer if you need to.
- Breathe out.
- Put the mouthpiece between your teeth, and close your lips tightly around the spacer.
- Press the top down and breathe in until your lungs fill completely about 3-5 seconds.
- Hold the medicine in your lungs as long as you can , then breathe out.
- If you donât get enough air in the first breath, wait 15-30 seconds and try again. Shake the inhaler again before the second puff. Donât fill the chamber with two puffs of medicine at once.
- Recap the mouthpiece.
- If your medicine has a steroid in it, rinse your mouth and gargle with water after you use the inhaler. Spit out the water.
Also Check: What Happens If You Smoke Weed With Asthma
Heres How To Use An Inhaler
Dont Miss: Allergic Asthma Attack
Aim For A Healthy Body Weight
People with obesity tend to have more severe asthma and more frequent symptoms.
People who are overweight and obese are also more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea . This is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. People with OSA get very tired during the day. If they also have asthma, their asthma symptoms get worse, too.
Also Check: Can Cold Weather Affect Asthma
Also Check: Does Weight Gain Make Asthma Worse
How To Help Someone With An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
Asthma is a very common condition with around one in 13 of us affected. Its been increasing since the 1980s and affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Theres currently no cure for asthma, but typically with the right treatment plan and lifestyle changes, most people diagnosed with asthma are able to live normally without severe symptoms.
However, very occasionally, a person with asthma may be caught off guard. They might find themselves facing an attack without an inhaler to help them. Fortunately, this doesnt need to be as bad as it might sound. With the right assistance, they could get through an attack using some simple coping techniques.
If you know someone with asthma, learning more about their condition, as well as what you can do to help them, can be valuable.
Dont Miss: Does Qvar Cause Weight Gain