An inhaler (also called a bronchodilator) is a hand-held, portable medical device used for delivering medicines into the lungs through the work of a person's breathing. This allows medicines to be delivered to and absorbed in the lungs, which provides the ability for targeted medical treatment to this specific region of the body, as well as a reduction in the side effects of oral medications. These medications help relax the muscles that tighten around the airways, they help open the airway and let more air move into and out of the lungs.
Types of inhalers
- Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs):These inhalers are made of 3 standard components. These include a pressurized metal canister that contains medicine, a plastic actuator and a metering valve. The pressurized canister that stores the medicine usually contains a propellant or a suspension mechanism. When activated, the metered-dose inhaler releases a fixed dose of medication in aerosol form through the actuator and into the patient's lungs.
- Dry powder inhalers (DPIs):When using these inhalers, the patient releases the medication in the inhaler by breathing a fast and deep breath, because there is no chemical propellant that pushes the medication out of the inhaler. These devices usually have a chamber in which the medication is stored prior to each use.
- Soft mist inhalers (SMIs):Soft mist inhalers work by the patient pressing a button, after which the inhaler creates a mist of medication. There is no need for a propellant or suspension. SMIs may be easier to use for young patients or patients with coordination issues because they suspend the inhaled medication longer than the average MDI.*
The importance of adherence to inhaled medicine
Inhaled medicines are a quick-acting way of getting relief when it comes to respiratory illnesses, but long-term use is vital to the improvement of the conditions and life quality of the patient over time. But, this is not without difficulty: there may be usage errors in terms of the technique, or the patient may forget or miss a dose. Smart inhalers are an excellent way of combating these issues. With a smart inhaler add-on such as SpiroHaler, patients can track their inhaler use easily and get real-time feedback, which also eliminates technique errors greatly.
- "Asthma inhalers: Which one's right for you?", Mayo Clinic, 2020.
- "What are inhalers & how do they work?", Charleston Allergy & Asthma, 2021.
- * "Device use errors with soft mist inhalers: A global systematic literature review and meta-analysis", Chronic Respiratory Disease, 2020.