Blog How to use an asthma inhaler
Convenient and easy to use, asthma inhalers are small, portable devices that deliver medication directly to your lungs. These medical appliances can help you to prevent asthma attacks and alleviate the symptoms if you do experience an attack. However, to get the most from inhalers, it’s important that you ensure you have the right medication, and that you know exactly how to operate the devices. In this post, we look at how inhalers work and the steps you should take when using one.

How do asthma inhalers work?

Inhalers allow you to breathe in asthma medicine, taking it straight to your lungs where it’s most needed.

What types of inhalers are there for asthma?

There are three main types of these devices. Often brown or beige in colour, preventer inhalers contain steroids and are designed to be used every day to help minimise inflammation in your lungs and reduce sensitivity. If your doctor prescribes you a preventer inhaler, it is important that you continue to use it even when you are not experiencing symptoms.

In contrast, reliever inhalers are designed to be used only when you are experiencing symptoms. Usually blue in colour, they can relieve breathing difficulties within a few minutes. If you find you are having to use these devices three or more times per week, this may indicate that you need an additional treatment. You should speak to your doctor to discuss your options.

As well as preventer and reliever devices, there are combination inhalers which may be prescribed by your doctor if other options have failed to control your asthma. Combination devices are used on a daily basis to help prevent symptoms from occurring and to offer lasting relief if you do experience symptoms. As with preventer inhalers, it is important to continue using them even if you are not experiencing signs of asthma.

How to use an inhaler

Each type of inhaler is designed to be used differently, and so it’s really important that you read the instructions provided with your device carefully. Doing this will help to ensure the medication is as effective as possible at reducing the risk of attacks or treating them quickly when they do happen, and it will minimise your risk of experiencing side effects.

Preventer inhalers are typically used once or twice a day, in the morning and/or evening. Regular dosing helps you to build up protection against asthma and it should reduce the likelihood of you needing other medication. Your doctor will advise you of the necessary dose when prescribing one of these devices.

Reliever inhalers are used only when you are experiencing the symptoms of an asthma attack. The medicine they provide usually lasts for around four to six hours, and typically you can use them no more than four times a day. It’s important to be aware that overusing this type of device can make your condition worse.

How to use a beclometasone inhaler

Sometimes called ‘puffers’, beclomethasone inhalers are a commonly used type of preventer inhaler. There are different versions available, so you should always check the instructions provided with your specific device before you start using it.

Clenil is one type of beclomethasone inhaler. If you are using one of these devices for the first time, or you have used it before but not for the last three days or more, release one puff of the medicine into the air to make sure it is working.

To take the medicine, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the device upright with your thumb located on the base beneath the mouthpiece, then breathe out as far as you can comfortably before placing the mouthpiece between your teeth and closing your lips around it. Take care not to bite the mouthpiece.
  1. Start to take in a breath through your mouth and then press down on the top of the device to release a puff of the medicine. Continue to breathe in deeply and steadily as you do this.
  1. Hold your breath while removing the inhaler from your mouth and your finger from the top of the device. Keep holding your breath for a few seconds longer if possible, before breathing out slowly.
  1. If your instructions tell you to take another puff, keep the inhaler upright and pause for about 30 seconds before repeating the previous steps.
  1. Once you have administered the correct dose, replace the mouthpiece.

When the indicator on your device shows there are 20 doses left, you should request a new one so that you receive your replacement in time. For hygiene purposes, make sure you clean your inhaler no less than once a week. Follow the instructions provided to ensure you do this safely and effectively.

Can you buy asthma inhalers over the counter?

Asthma inhalers are prescription medicines, so they are not available to purchase over the counter. You can get a prescription from your doctor, or if you want the convenience of ordering online, you can simply complete a consultation on our website. One of our independent General Pharmaceutical Council-registered prescribers will review your consultation. Once it has been approved, we will deliver your asthma inhaler straight to your door.

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