Asthma

Rescue Inhaler

Asthma Inhalers to the Rescue

The first thing every asthmatic is made to understand is that asthma, at its current state of medical research, cannot be cured completely. The reason is that its source and advent are still not completely understood. Some researchers say the current rise in the number of diagnosed cases of this disease lies in, believe it or not, reduced exposure to pathogens (microbes, viruses, infections, irritants, and the like) during early childhood. The theory goes on to explain that since the body's systems were not "reinforced" by the unfriendly exterior environment, the imminent exposure makes some of us develop an unusual, aggressive reaction to irritants, sometimes progressing into allergies, sometimes escalading into asthma. While there exist a number of ways one can take care of their allergies, the only known sure way to ensure asthma is kept in check is to have a rescue inhaler handy at all times, using it as the more severe symptoms arise.

Rescue Inhaler Basics

To help you better grasp what rescue inhalers are, provided below are a few short facts about them:

  • In essence, a rescue inhaler is a small device containing short acting inhalable medicine that can be used in emergency situations to alleviate any apparent symptoms of asthma, including wheezing, shortness of breath, and other breathing difficulties.
  • Using these inhalers will also provide a short period of prevention of symptoms, the duration of which depends on the particular brand and medical composition of the inhalant. As such, you can use it to prevent exercise-induced asthma. On average, you can expect 3-5 hours of relief.
  • Rescue inhalers are not intended for long-term control of symptoms though, and if you end up using your inhaler more than twice a week because of recurrent symptoms, you may want to add long-acting drugs, such as corticosteroids, to your asthma treatment plan.

Types of Rescue Inhalers

The most common type of medication used in rescue inhalers are bronchodilators - drugs that can relax and expand ("dilate") the airways, allowing air to move more freely in and out of the lungs. Currently, bronchodilators are about the only type of medication prescribed for use in rescue inhalers - only rarely you may encounter an emergency inhaler that does not contain one or more types of bronchodilators.

There are, however, several formulations of the active components, including:

  • albuterol sulfate,
  • metaproterenol sulfate,
  • levalbuterol,
  • terbutaline,
  • pirbuterol.

These components are commonly used on their own with a few additives and a propellant, but you can find inhaler brands that contain a combination of bronchodilators. While all of these medications essentially do the same thing and amount to the same effect, the reason for this kind of diversity is that all of them have specific side effects and the organism may react differently to one compound or the other, making it necessary to narrow down the type of inhaler you should use. The most common however, is albuterol - a compound that is vastly dominant on the market, being used as a component in over 60% of all rescue inhalers in the US.

The Role of Rescue Inhalers in Asthma Treatment

If you are suffering from asthma, or are looking for help for someone who is, have a look at these few facts about the use of emergency inhalers:

  • The most important part a rescue inhaler can play in your treatment is to be the "secret weapon" against any kind of sudden or apparent symptoms, mild or severe. This is the reason each and every patient with asthma is prescribed a rescue inhaler regardless of the severity of their condition. This small, convenient device is something to better have and not need, rather than ignore and regret later.
  • Patient reports indicate that using a rescue inhaler almost always relieves most, if not all the symptoms of breathing impairment. In over 55% of cases patients report significant improvement after a single inhalation, with at least 84% of their symptoms being completely or almost entirely alleviated.
  • The side effects of short-acting bronchodilators are usually very mild and tend to be easy to handle and alleviate with conventional means (i.e. rinsing your mouth with water after inhalation can help reduce dryness and help prevent other side effects). You may still get worse after using these medications, although only in rare cases (such as if you are allergic to one of the ingredients), so keep in mind that they are not completely risk-free.
  • Many patients that have experienced the effectiveness of rescue inhalers tend to overuse their medication and not contact the doctor even when they end up using their inhaler several times a week, or even daily. This kind of approach is not something rescue inhalers are made for - if your symptoms are severe and regular enough to make you use the inhaler more than twice a week, then it is time to consider more lasting solutions, such as inhaled corticosteroids.

The Advantages of Asthma Inhalers

It is a medical fact that asthma inhalers are much more efficient at producing more prominent results when treating respiratory distress.

The idea is very simple:

  • Unlike oral drugs, which subject your whole body to a barrage of interfering medical compounds, inhalers enable the ability to apply medication directly onto the ailing areas of your organism, namely the lungs and airways, avoiding unneeded exposure for the rest of the body.
  • Since the medication is sprayed and inhaled directly into the lungs, the beneficial effects of the active compounds start to kick in almost immediately - the vibrant tissues of the respiratory tract are very sensitive, and thus are able to absorb the drug much quicker than other organs.
  • To compare, the average engagement time of inhaled asthma meds, be that bronchodilators or steroids, is about 15 seconds, while oral drugs only start to activate in about an hour, or more. Although such fast activation timers do not really matter for "controller" type treatment regimens, they play a paramount role in an emergency rescue inhaler that contains fast-acting bronchodilators.
  • Modern asthma inhalers are specifically designed to be easy to handle and use in emergency scenarios. It is easy to agree that if you are on the verge of having an asthma attack, you want something that not only can alleviate the symptoms, but do so without you having to fuss over the details and preparations. All you need is to know the proper technique on how to use the inhaler when you might need it.

That is it for this article, and although it does not cover every topic about rescue inhalers and their role in the treatment of asthma, we hope it has been of some use to you. Also, we have more articles for you to consider reading.

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