Inhalers are widely used for managing asthma and COPD. They are most preferred for their fast and targeted action. They help deliver the medicine directly into the lungs. There are three types of inhalers, namely Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs), Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) and Soft Mist Inhalers (SMIs).
It is necessary to use these inhalers properly to get the maximum or desirable effect. If you are not using these inhalers properly, little to no drug may reach the lungs, and you may not get any benefit.
Advantages of inhalers:
The most common advantages of inhalers include
- Simple and convenient to use
- Portable (Easy to carry)
- Deliver medicine directly to lungs
Disadvantages of inhalers:
- Chances of oral thrush (a type of infection)
Types of inhalers:
Based on the medicine they contain
Preventive inhalers: These inhalers contain medicines like long-acting bronchodilators and steroids. As the name suggests, these inhalers are used to prevent asthma attacks and should be used for the long term. They are slow acting and should be used daily to keep the asthma symptoms at bay.
Rescue inhalers: These inhalers contain medicines like short-acting bronchodilators. As the name suggests, these inhalers are used to provide fast relief and are commonly used during an asthma attack. They are also known as fast-acting inhalers as they start to provide relief in a few seconds to minutes, but they provide relief for a short period.
Based on how they work
Metered dose inhalers (MDI): Metered dose inhalers are the most commonly used inhalers. As the name suggests, these inhalers will deliver a metered dose of medication, which has to be inhaled through the mouth.
Metered dose inhalers contain a pressurized canister which contains the medicine and propellants (products that help deliver the medicine to the lungs). It is advised to shake the canister before each use to help mix the medicine and propellants.
These inhalers can be used with or without spacers. Most doctors recommend using these inhalers with spacers.
A person has to inhale while he presses the canister to deliver the medicine to the lungs.
Dry powder inhalers (DPI): As the name suggests, these inhalers contain medicine in dry powder form. The dry powder has to be inhaled to get relief. The dry powder is present in a capsule, which has to be put in the inhaler, where it will be broken, and the medicine will be delivered in the form of a dry powder.
The advantage of DPI over MDI is that it doesn’t require coordination with pressing the canister and inhaling.
Soft mist inhalers (SMI): This is a type of inhaler in which the medicine will be delivered in the form of a soft mist.
The advantage of SMI over MDI is that the medication is released slowly compared to MDIs. Hence, the medicine lasts longer in the air than MDIs.