Asthma and other respiratory diseases can interfere with a person’s life if they do not take medication and other preventive measures. You may be familiar with inhalers on a surface level, as they are the most common, but let’s look more closely at different delivery methods for asthma medication.
Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)
A metered dose inhaler is just what it sounds like: a device that delivers a specific dose of aerosolized medication for inhalation. The medication generally contains a bronchodilator to relax the muscles in the lungs and make breathing easier, as well as a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.
There is also a propellant inside a metered dose inhaler to atomize the medication and help force it into the airways. The most common propellant used today is HFA (hydrofluoroalkane), a safe alternative to the ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) of yesteryear.
Soft Mist Inhaler (SMI)
Soft mist inhalers do not use a propellant the way metered dose inhalers do. The medication is released in a fine mist and more gradually. While doses are not automatically metered, the inhaler generally has a dose counter on the side so you can see how much medication remains inside.
Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI)
A dry powder inhaler delivers medication in the form of—you guessed it—a dry powder inside a capsule or blister pack. There is no propellant to push the medication into the lungs; instead, the patient must place the capsule into the inhaler and take a deep breath in.
A nebulizer looks quite different from a traditional inhaler; the user wears a mask over their face and inhales the medication in mist form. Nebulizers help patients breathe more easily if they cannot use a traditional inhaler, and they’re a popular option for older folks and young kids. A nebulizer can also deliver higher doses of medication than a traditional inhaler.
Patients with asthma that is triggered by allergies often find relief in taking oral medications, like pills or sublingual tablets. Corticosteroids like prednisone are common as they reduce the inflammation that causes difficulty breathing.
While inhalers are among the most common delivery methods for asthma medication, the journey to wellness doesn’t begin and end with a puff. If you or a loved one experiences asthma every day, talk to your doctor about the delivery method that will help you most effectively.