A Complete Guide to Asthma Inhalers – Types, Purchasing Options, and Proper Usage

Types of Asthma Inhalers Available for Purchase in the US

Asthma inhalers are essential medical devices that help manage the symptoms of asthma by delivering medication directly to the lungs. There are several types of asthma inhalers available for purchase in the United States, each designed to address different needs and preferences. Let’s explore the most common types of asthma inhalers:

1. Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs)

Metered-dose inhalers, commonly known as MDIs, are one of the most popular types of inhalers available. They consist of a pressurized canister containing medication and a mouthpiece or mask through which the medication is inhaled. MDIs deliver a measured dose of medication with each press of the canister.

Some widely used MDIs include:

  • Albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, Proventil HFA): A short-acting bronchodilator that quickly relieves asthma symptoms by relaxing the airway muscles.
  • Fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair HFA): A combination inhaler that contains both a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator, providing both immediate relief and long-term control of asthma symptoms.
  • Budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort): Another combination inhaler that offers both a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator to manage asthma symptoms.

It is important to note that prescription is generally required for these inhalers. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable inhaler for your specific needs.

2. Dry powder inhalers (DPIs)

Dry powder inhalers, or DPIs, are another widely used type of asthma inhalers. Unlike MDIs, DPIs do not require the use of propellants or coordination of inhalation and activation. Instead, they deliver medication in a powdered form that can be inhaled directly into the lungs.

Some examples of DPIs include:

  • Fluticasone (Flovent Diskus): A steroid inhaler that helps reduce inflammation in the airways and control asthma symptoms.
  • Tiotropium (Spiriva): An inhaler primarily used for the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but occasionally prescribed for asthma as well.
  • Inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta-agonist combinations (Breo Ellipta, Symbicort): These combination inhalers deliver both a steroid and a bronchodilator to provide comprehensive asthma management.

Similar to MDIs, DPIs typically require a prescription. A healthcare professional will guide you in selecting the most suitable DPI based on your unique condition.

3. Nebulizers

Nebulizers are a different type of asthma inhaler that convert medication into a fine mist, making it easier to inhale. They are particularly suitable for young children or individuals having difficulty using MDIs or DPIs.

Popular nebulizers include:

  • Albuterol (AccuNeb, ProAir RespiClick): A nebulized form of the short-acting bronchodilator albuterol.
  • Budesonide (Pulmicort Respules): A steroid medication that decreases inflammation in the airways when administered through a nebulizer.

Nebulizers can be obtained with a prescription and are usually recommended for individuals who have trouble using other inhaler types.

Each type of inhaler mentioned above has its advantages and may suit different individuals depending on variables such as age, ability to coordinate inhalation, and personal preferences. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate asthma inhaler for optimal asthma management.

For more information on asthma inhalers, you can visit reputable sources such as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Can you buy asthma inhalers over the counter in Canada?

When it comes to managing asthma, inhalers play a crucial role in helping individuals control their symptoms and lead a normal life. In many countries, including the United States, asthma inhalers are available only with a prescription. But what about Canada? Can you buy asthma inhalers over the counter in the Great White North?

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The answer is yes, you can buy certain types of asthma inhalers over the counter in Canada. While most countries require a prescription for inhalers, Canada has taken a more progressive approach by allowing the sale of some inhalers without a prescription.

Types of over-the-counter asthma inhalers available in Canada

In Canada, two types of asthma inhalers are available over the counter: Salbutamol and Epinephrine inhalers. Salbutamol inhalers, also known as Ventolin inhalers, contain a bronchodilator medication that helps relieve symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Epinephrine inhalers, on the other hand, contain a medication that helps relax the muscles in the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Considerations and precautions

While it may be convenient to purchase asthma inhalers over the counter, it is important to remember that self-diagnosis and self-medication can be risky. If you suspect you have asthma or are experiencing worsening symptoms, it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Asthma can be a serious condition that requires careful management, and using the wrong inhaler or incorrect dosage can have harmful consequences. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific asthma needs.

Availability of other inhalers

While Canada allows the sale of certain asthma inhalers over the counter, this does not mean that all types of inhalers are available without a prescription. Other types of inhalers, such as corticosteroid inhalers for long-term control of asthma, are still prescription-only in Canada. These inhalers, such as Fluticasone and Budesonide inhalers, require a doctor’s prescription.


Canada’s approach in allowing the sale of some asthma inhalers over the counter provides convenience and accessibility for individuals with mild to moderate asthma. However, it is important to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Remember, each person’s asthma is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Stay informed, consult medical expertise, and take control of your asthma management to lead a healthy and active life.

Choosing the Right Asthma Inhaler for Children

When it comes to managing asthma in children, choosing the right asthma inhaler is crucial for effective treatment. With several options available on the market, it can be overwhelming for parents to make an informed decision. This article aims to provide guidance on selecting the most suitable asthma inhaler for children.

Different Types of Asthma Inhalers for Children

Before diving into the specifics, it’s important to understand the various types of asthma inhalers available for children:

  1. Metered-Dose Inhalers (MDIs): These inhalers deliver a specific dose of medication in the form of a mist or spray. They require coordination between pressing down on the inhaler and inhaling the medication.
  2. Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs): DPIs deliver powdered medication which is then inhaled. They do not require coordination and are suitable for children who have difficulty using MDIs.
  3. Nebulizers: Nebulizers convert liquid medication into a fine mist for inhalation. They are often used for younger children or those who struggle with inhaler techniques.

Each type of asthma inhaler has its own advantages and considerations, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best option for your child.

Considerations when Choosing an Asthma Inhaler for Children

When choosing an asthma inhaler for a child, several factors should be taken into account:

  • Age: Younger children may find it difficult to use MDIs, requiring assistance or the use of a spacer device. Nebulizers may be more suitable for this age group.
  • Coordination: Children need to have the ability to coordinate inhaling medication with pressing down on the inhaler. If coordination is a challenge, DPIs or nebulizers may be better options.
  • Personal Preference: Depending on the child’s comfort, they may have a preference for a specific type of inhaler. Involving the child in the decision-making process can increase their adherence to treatment.

The Importance of Healthcare Professional Guidance

It’s important to note that the selection of an asthma inhaler for a child should always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They will consider the child’s medical history, symptom severity, and individual needs to determine the most appropriate inhaler.

According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, healthcare professionals play a critical role in helping parents choose the right asthma inhaler for their children.

It’s essential to involve a healthcare professional in the decision-making process to ensure the best outcomes for your child’s asthma management.

For more information on asthma inhalers and treatment options, please visit the American Lung Association or consult with your child’s healthcare provider.

Debunking the Myth: Do Inhalers Make Asthma Worse?

In recent years, there have been concerns and misconceptions surrounding the use of asthma inhalers and whether they can make asthma symptoms worse. It is important to address these concerns and separate fact from fiction to ensure individuals with asthma have accurate information for managing their condition effectively. Let’s debunk this myth and look at the truth behind it:

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The Myth: Inhalers Make Asthma Worse

There is a widely circulated belief that using asthma inhalers can actually exacerbate asthma symptoms and make the condition worse over time. This misconception may arise from a lack of understanding about how inhalers work and their long-term effects.

However, it is crucial to note that inhalers, when used correctly and as prescribed by a healthcare professional, do not make asthma worse. In fact, they are a vital part of managing and controlling asthma symptoms.

The Truth Behind Inhaler Use

Using an inhaler delivers medication directly to the airways, providing quick relief and reducing inflammation. It helps to open up the airways, making breathing easier for individuals with asthma. Inhalers primarily contain bronchodilators, such as short-acting beta-agonists, which relax the airway muscles.

It is important to emphasize that inhalers, when used as prescribed, do not cause long-term harm or dependency. They are not addictive and should be seen as a vital tool in asthma management, similar to other medications prescribed for chronic conditions.

According to leading medical experts and organizations, such as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the National Institutes of Health, inhalers are safe and effective for long-term use when used appropriately.

Busting the Myth: Asthma Inhalers do not worsen asthma

Different research studies and surveys have been conducted to debunk the myth that inhalers make asthma worse. One study conducted by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand followed a group of patients with asthma who used inhalers regularly. The study concluded that using inhalers appropriately did not lead to worsening of asthma symptoms.

Additionally, a survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reported that a large majority of participants experienced significant improvement in their asthma symptoms when using inhalers as prescribed.


It is crucial to dispel the myth that inhalers make asthma worse. The reality is that inhalers, when used correctly, are beneficial in managing and controlling asthma symptoms. They provide essential relief and help individuals lead healthier lives. Consulting with a healthcare professional and following their guidance is vital in understanding the appropriate use of inhaler medications and effectively managing asthma.

Side effects of asthma inhalers: do they make you shaky?

Asthma inhalers are commonly used to treat asthma symptoms by delivering medication directly into the airways. While inhalers can effectively manage symptoms and improve lung function, it is important to be aware of possible side effects that may occur. One common concern among individuals using asthma inhalers is whether they can cause shakiness or trembling.

It is important to note that not all asthma inhalers cause shaking as a side effect. Different types of inhalers contain different medications, and the likelihood of experiencing shaking may vary depending on the specific medication used. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which inhaler is most suitable for you or your child’s condition.

Types of medications in asthma inhalers

Asthma inhalers can contain either short-acting bronchodilators or long-acting bronchodilators. Short-acting bronchodilators, such as albuterol, provide quick relief from asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles around the airways, making it easier to breathe.

On the other hand, long-acting bronchodilators are used to manage asthma symptoms over a longer period. They are usually used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids for better control of asthma. Common long-acting bronchodilators include formoterol and salmeterol.

Possible side effects of asthma inhalers

While shaking or trembling can occur as a side effect of some asthma inhalers, it is not a common occurrence. The likelihood of experiencing this side effect is generally higher with short-acting bronchodilators.

Shakiness, if present, is usually temporary and typically subsides within a few minutes. The sensation of shakiness may be mild or more pronounced depending on the individual. However, if the shaking or trembling persists or becomes bothersome, it is recommended to contact a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

Managing or reducing side effects

If the side effect of shaking or trembling occurs, there are several strategies that can help manage or reduce these symptoms:

  • Using a spacer: A spacer device can be used with the inhaler to help maximize the medication delivery to the airways and minimize its absorption into the bloodstream, potentially reducing side effects.
  • Taking the recommended dose: It is important to follow the prescribed dosage instructions provided by the healthcare professional to minimize the risk of side effects.
  • Proper inhalation technique: Using the inhaler correctly can help ensure that the medication is delivered effectively to the airways, reducing the possibility of side effects.

It is essential to discuss any concerns or side effects experienced with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance on managing these symptoms and recommend alternative treatment options if necessary.

Overall, while asthma inhalers can cause side effects such as shaking or trembling, this is not a common occurrence, and the benefits of using inhalers to manage asthma symptoms generally outweigh the potential risks. If you have any concerns or questions about your inhaler’s side effects, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate guidance.

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How to Properly Use an Asthma Inhaler

Using an asthma inhaler correctly is vital to ensure effective asthma management and symptom relief. Improper use of an inhaler can limit its effectiveness and lead to poorly controlled asthma. Follow these steps to ensure you are using your asthma inhaler properly:

Step 1: Shake the inhaler

Before using your inhaler, give it a good shake. This is important as shaking helps to mix the medication properly, ensuring that you get the right dose with each puff.

Step 2: Prepare the inhaler

If you are using a new inhaler or haven’t used it for a while, you may need to prime it. Check the instructions provided with your inhaler to determine if priming is necessary. Priming involves releasing a few puffs into the air to ensure that the medicine is flowing smoothly.

Step 3: Breathe out fully

Before you inhale the medication, make sure you exhale fully. This helps to clear your lungs, making it easier for the medicine to reach the airways.

Step 4: Form a proper seal

Hold the inhaler upright and close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece. Make sure there are no gaps between your lips and the inhaler, as this can result in medication escaping and reduced effectiveness.

Step 5: Inhale slowly and deeply

As you start to inhale, press down on the canister to release a puff of medication. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your mouth to ensure that the medication reaches your lungs properly.

Step 6: Hold your breath

After inhaling the medication, hold your breath for 10 seconds to allow the medicine to penetrate deep into your airways. This maximizes the effectiveness of the medication.

Step 7: Repeat if necessary

If your doctor has instructed you to take multiple doses, wait for about a minute before taking the next puff. Rinse your mouth with water after using inhalers containing corticosteroids to prevent the development of oral thrush.

Step 8: Clean and store your inhaler

After each use, clean the mouthpiece with a dry tissue or cloth to remove any residue or buildup. Follow the specific cleaning instructions provided with your inhaler. Keep your inhaler in a clean and dry place to ensure its longevity and proper functioning.
It is essential to consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for detailed instructions on the proper use of your specific inhaler. Remember, improper inhaler technique could reduce its effectiveness in controlling your asthma symptoms.
For more information and detailed instructions, you can visit reputable sources such as the American Lung Association’s website (www.lung.org) or the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov).
Don’t let incorrect inhaler technique compromise your asthma management. By following these instructions and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, you can ensure maximum effectiveness and better control of your asthma symptoms.

Additional tips for managing asthma with inhalers

Managing asthma effectively requires more than just owning an asthma inhaler. To ensure optimal control of your condition and minimize symptoms, it is essential to follow these additional tips:

1. Understand your triggers

Identifying and understanding your asthma triggers can help you avoid them, thereby reducing the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. Common triggers include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, smoke, cold air, and exercise. Visit Asthma Canada or Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to learn more about asthma triggers and how to manage them effectively.

2. Create an asthma action plan

Consulting with your healthcare provider to develop an asthma action plan is crucial for effectively managing your condition. This plan outlines the steps to take when your asthma symptoms worsen or when you experience an asthma attack. It should detail the medications to use, the dosage, and when to seek emergency medical help. Be sure to follow your action plan diligently.

3. Keep track of your symptoms

Keeping a record of your asthma symptoms and peak flow measurements can help you and your healthcare provider monitor your asthma control. By noting down when symptoms occur, their severity, and any triggers that may have caused them, you can better identify patterns and make adjustments to your treatment plan when necessary.

There are several mobile apps and digital tools available, such as Asthma Tracker and AsthmaMD, that can assist you in tracking your symptoms and managing your asthma effectively.

4. Regularly clean and replace your inhaler

Proper maintenance and cleanliness of your asthma inhaler are vital for effective medication delivery. Regularly clean the inhaler device, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, ensure that you replace the inhaler as recommended. Using a clogged or expired inhaler may result in inadequate medication delivery, leading to poorly controlled asthma symptoms.

5. Stay up to date with your medication

It’s important to refill your prescription and never run out of your asthma medication. Regularly check the expiry dates of your inhalers and other medicines. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about your medication or its effectiveness in managing your asthma.

6. Educate yourself and those around you

Understanding asthma and its management is key to effectively controlling the condition. Educate yourself about asthma triggers, symptoms, and proper inhaler technique. Share this knowledge with family members, friends, and colleagues, so they can provide support and assistance during an asthma emergency.

There are numerous resources available online that offer extensive information on asthma education. Trusted sources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

7. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider

Scheduling regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, even when you are not experiencing symptoms, is essential for managing your asthma effectively. These visits allow your healthcare provider to assess your condition, adjust your treatment plan if needed, and provide guidance on asthma self-management. It also provides an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns or questions you may have regarding your asthma.

Remember, being proactive and taking an active role in managing your asthma can greatly improve your quality of life and help you enjoy everyday activities without being limited by asthma symptoms.