Inhalers for asthma: All you need to know

If you or your dear one suffers from asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases, then you already know how important an inhaler is.  

Inhalers are one of the most effective treatments for asthma and COPD and are used widely by respiratory patients across the world. They are small, handheld devices that help in taking asthma medications through inhalation. Inhalers work great in delivering asthma medications to target organs (airways and lungs) faster and cause fewer side effects than oral asthma medications.  

To get the optimum results, it is important to learn the correct technique to use the inhalers from your doctor or pharmacist. Otherwise, you will not get the required dose of asthma medication and may have flare-ups or poor control of your asthma symptoms.  

Read the post to know more about inhalers for asthma and why it is important. 

What is the difference between rescue and controller inhalers? 

Inhaled asthma medication is available in two varieties: short-acting inhaled asthma medication like albuterol and long-acting asthma medication like corticosteroids.  

 Short-acting asthma medication acts fast (within minutes) and helps in relieving acute asthma symptoms. They relax the respiratory muscles and help dilate narrowed airways. Rescue inhalers are used for delivering short-acting asthma medications.   

 Long-acting asthma medications are used for the long term and help in preventing the relapsing of symptoms. Long-acting inhalers act slowly and provide long–term relief. Controller inhalers are used for delivering long-acting asthma medication.  

Common types of inhaler devices  

Metered dose inhalers 

Metered dose inhalers are the most used asthma inhalers. For using them properly, it is important to follow the correct technique of using metered dose inhalers

Using a meter dose inhaler requires proper coordination between delivering the medicine and breathing. You may use a supportive device called a spacer for easy delivery of medications. Spacers are the best option for children and older people.  

Dry powdered inhalers (DPIs) 

Dry powdered inhalers (DPIs) use powdered forms of medication. They are breath-actuated inhalers. For using dry-powered inhalers, you need to take a deep breath from the inhalers. As a downside, you cannot use spacers with powdered dose inhalers.  


Nebulizers are often used for treating severe cases of asthma when patients cannot use other types of asthma inhalers for asthma medication. Nebulizers are mostly used in infants, older and severely ill people. 

Pros and cons of using inhalers for asthma treatment 


  • Inhalers are the best way to administer asthma medication. With inhalers, asthma medication reaches the airways and lungs quickly and provides quick relief for asthma symptoms.  
  • Inhalers are small, portable devices. You can carry them easily to any place and can continue your asthma treatment without interruption.  
  • Inhalers cause fewer side effects than oral asthma medication. With this method, you will require less quantity and (fewer doses) of medication to get relief from asthma symptoms. 


  • It is not easy to learn the correct technique to use asthma inhalers. As per data, up to 92% of people with asthma use asthma inhalers with the wrong technique which causes relapsing of symptoms and did not provide needed relief.  
  • Some people suffer from oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth as a side effect of using asthma inhalers. It is important to rinse your mouth properly after using asthma inhalers to avoid these side effects.  
  • Inhalers are not a good option for older people and small kids who cannot make hand-breathing coordination for inhaling medication.  

In conclusion, inhalers are one of best treatment options for asthma. However, it is important to discuss with your doctor to choose which option will work best for you.