What Drugs Are In the Inhaler? continued...
Bronchodilator asthma inhalers are either short or long-acting. They widen your airways to ease symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. They include:
- Short-acting beta-agonists (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA, and Xoponex)
- Long-acting beta-agonists (Foradil and Serevent). The combination inhalers containing both a long-acting beta-agonist and a steroid include Advair, Dulera, and Symbicort.
- Combivent and DuoNeb inhalers contain both albuterol and ipratropium (a bronchodilator); albuterol and ipratropium may also be given using a nebulizer.
For in-depth information, see WebMD's article on Bronchodilators: Relieving Asthma Symptoms.
Is There Enough Medicine in My Inhaler?
Many new inhalers include a dose counter to show how much medication is left. It’s hard to tell with older models, most of which make a puff sound long after the medication is gone. This could be a serious problem if you need the inhaler and it’s empty.
The best way to tell how many doses remain is to mark the number of doses used on the inhaler and then toss it after you've used this number of puffs. You can find the total number of doses on the box or canister. Mark the date on your calendar when you expect to use all of the available puffs in the new inhaler, and replace it before then. Keep one or two extra quick-relief inhalers at home.
Do I Need a Spacer?
A spacer is a tube that attaches to the inhaler and holds the medication until you can breathe it in. This makes the device easier to use and helps get the medication into your lungs. Not all inhalers are used with a spacer, so ask your pharmacist if you need one.
Spacers with masks are available for use by small children or anyone else who can’t breathe in through a standard spacer.
See WebMD’s articles for instructions on using an MDI inhaler with a spacer, without a spacer, and with a mask spacer.