Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Asthma: Ways to Take Inhaled Medicines - Topic Overview

When you use inhaled asthma medicine, you usually use a device that delivers the medicine directly to your lungs. Different types of delivery systems are available. And one type may be more suitable for certain people, age groups, or medicine than another. The following table describes how asthma medicines may be delivered.

Types of asthma medicines
Delivery system and medicines Age group What to think about

Use a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) with:

  • Beta2-agonists.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Anticholinergics.
  • Adults and children
  • Doctors recommend the use of a spacer camera.gif with a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). The spacer is attached to the MDI. A spacer may deliver the medicine to your child's lungs better than an inhaler alone and, for many people, is easier to use than an MDI alone. Using a spacer with inhaled corticosteroid medicine can help reduce their side effects and result in less use of oral corticosteroid medicine.
  • A spacer is recommended for children age 5 and older.
  • A spacer and a face mask are recommended for children younger than 5.
  • Using a spacer with an MDI may be just as effective as and less expensive than a nebulizer and can reduce the risk of an overdose.
  • If you don't use a spacer, you need to trigger a puff of medicine and inhale at the same time.

Use a dry powder inhaler (DPI) with:

  • Beta2-agonists.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Children 4 years and older and adults
  • How well it works may depend on how well you breathe in.
  • Your doctor determines the amount of medicine you use based on how much air you can breathe in. It also may be different than the amount used in some MDIs.
  • DPIs may be easy to use, but they may be difficult to use during an asthma attack because you need to be able to breathe well to get the best effect.

Use a nebulizer with:

  • Beta2-agonists.
  • Cromolyn.
  • Anticholinergics.
  • Any age that cannot use an MDI with a spacer
  • A nebulizer uses a face mask camera.gif or mouthpiece camera.gif to deliver the medicine.
  • The medicine can be given over a long period of time.
  • Nebulizers may be helpful for those who are ill, have serious difficulty breathing, or have trouble using an inhaler-especially infants, very young children, and older adults.
  • A nebulizer is not very precise in delivering medicine, and there is a risk of getting too much medicine (overdose).
  • A nebulizer needs electricity to turn the medicine into a fine mist. Some nebulizers have a large compressor that does this. Other ones are portable and come with batteries.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: /2, 14 1
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
1
Next Article:

Asthma: Ways to Take Inhaled Medicines Topics

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
Slideshow
woman wearing cpap mask
Article
 
red wine pouring into glass
Slideshow
Woman holding inhaler
Quiz
 
Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article