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- Choose your preferred inhaler from our range of reliever, preventer, and combination inhaler options (see below).
- Complete a short questionnaire so our doctors can check that your preferred inhaler is right for you. They may suggest an alternative option, or give further advice.
- Choose free home delivery or collection from your local Asda pharmacy to receive your inhaler (if prescribed).
- Privately message our doctors for free advice before or after you order (for example, if your current inhaler isn’t right for you).
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About asthma inhalers
There are 3 different types of asthma inhaler that we prescribe, all of which have a different way of treating and preventing asthma symptoms.
These inhalers are usually blue and contain a type of medication called a bronchodilator. You use this inhaler when your symptoms start and it gives relief within a few minutes, as it helps to open and relax the airways. They have few side effects but can sometimes cause a slight tremor after use. You may need to use a reliever inhaler with a preventer inhaler if you get symptoms a lot. A common reliever inhaler is a Salbutamol inhaler.
Reliever inhalers include:
A preventer inhaler is different to a reliever inhaler and should be used every day to prevent symptoms from happening as often. These inhalers can reduce inflammation in the airways, as they contain a type of medication known as a corticosteroid. They are usually brown in colour. They are suitable for most asthma patients but should be monitored by a doctor as your dose can change depending on your asthma symptoms.
Preventer inhalers include:
- Qvar Aerosol
- Qvar Autohaler
- Qvar Easi-Breathe
These inhalers, as the name suggests, is a combination of 2 different medications. Combination inhalers are often prescribed for asthma patients who need a bit more from their preventer inhalers. Combination inhalers are usually purple, or red and white. They contain a corticosteroid and another medication called a long-acting bronchodilator. This can give longer lasting relief from symptoms. A typical combination inhaler is a Symbicort Turbohaler.
Combination inhalers include:
- Seretide Accuhaler
- Seretide Evohaler
- Pulmicort Turbohaler
- Symbicort Turbohaler
You may use a spacer with your inhaler to make it work better and to reduce side effects. This is an empty plastic tube that can be attached to your inhaler, with a mouthpiece on the other end. You can take your inhaler through a spacer if you struggle to take an inhaler normally as the medication will collect in the spacer so you can breathe it in without wasting any.
How do reliever inhalers work?
Reliever inhalers contain short-acting bronchodilators, to give quick relief quickly. Bronchodilators make breathing easier as they relax the muscles and open the airways.
How do preventer inhalers work?
Preventer inhalers contain corticosteroids, which help asthma patients as they keep down inflammation and swelling in the airways, making it easier to breathe. Used daily, corticosteroids can help prevent asthma symptoms coming in the first place.
How do combination inhalers work?
Combination inhalers contain a mixture of both medicines, but this time with a long-acting bronchodilator. This controls asthma symptoms better and improves the effect of the corticosteroid. This means you can use it to prevent asthma symptoms, and relieve them if they do happen.
You will find 2 common types of inhalers. Each inhaler will have a button you press to release the dose, and a mouthpiece, so you can breathe in the dose.
- Metered dose inhalers: These inhalers require you to have a good technique, as when you press the inhaler, the dose comes out through the mouthpiece. You must breathe it in properly to get the full dose. Spacers are often used with these inhalers to make it easier.
- Dry powder inhalers: These inhalers contain medication in the form of dry powder. You have to release the dose into the inhaler and then breathe in deeply to get the dose. These are easier to use as the dose stays in the inhaler until you breathe it in.
You should use your asthma inhaler as prescribed by your doctor. You should use a preventer inhaler every day, even if you have not had symptoms for a few days. The dosage can be different depending on how your asthma symptoms are at the time. Only stop taking an inhaler or lower the dose if you have been told to by your doctor.
Usually, a preventer inhaler will be taken 1 to 2 times a day. Your reliever inhaler should be used whenever you have symptoms and the amount of puffs you take will depend on how much you need.
Your inhaler comes with a patient information leaflet, which lets you know how many puffs is safe in a day. If you miss a dose, never take a double dose. Instead, wait until your next dose is due and carry on as normal. If you are needing your reliever inhaler a lot, speak to your doctor.
Asthma inhalers are not found over the counter as they need to be prescribed for you. Using our service will make sure you get doctor approved and prescribed medication. Our doctors will tell you how many puffs of each inhaler you should be taking each day, depending on how your asthma symptoms are.
Asthma inhalers can sometimes have side effects until your body gets used to the medication but this is not likely to last. If you are using your inhalers often, you are more likely to see side effects.
As preventer and reliever inhalers contain different medications, they may have slightly different side effects. Combination inhalers contain both medications, so you may have side effects from either of these medications.
The common side effects of reliever inhalers are:
- a fast heartbeat
- muscle cramps
You do not need to do anything if these side effects go away on their own. If they continue to bother you, speak to your doctor.
Rare side effects of reliever inhalers include:
- chest pain
- muscle weakness or pain
- headaches that are worse than normal
- allergic reaction
If you get any of these side effects, call your doctor or 111 straight away. If you have a severe allergic reaction, go to A&E.
The common side effects of preventer inhalers are:
- dry or sore throat
- a change in voice
- oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth)
Keep taking your preventer inhaler but speak to a doctor if these symptoms do not go away. Washing your mouth out with water after taking your inhaler and using a spacer can help with these side effects.
Rare side effects of preventer inhalers include:
- Cushing’s syndrome
- a change in eyesight, such as blurred vision
- adrenal gland problems
- allergic reaction
If you get any rare side effects, go to A&E straight away.
You should only use an asthma inhaler if it has been prescribed to you by a doctor. If you are taking certain medication or have other conditions, you should speak to your doctor first.
Speak to your doctor before using your asthma inhaler if you are taking:
- diuretics, a medication to get rid of fluid from the body
- digoxin, a medication for the heart
- benzodiazepines, a medication for anxiety and sleeping problems
- lithium, a medication for bipolar disorder
Asthma inhalers can be taken by most people. You should speak with your doctor first if you have:
- heart problems
- high blood pressure
- an overactive thyroid
Some asthma inhalers can make these conditions worse. There are no foods that will change the effectiveness of your inhaler. Prolonged use of your inhaler can cause other side effects. You should see your doctor to review the use of your inhaler at least once a year, or if your asthma symptoms get worse.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 31 Aug 2021
Last reviewed: 31 Aug 2021
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(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)