Shortly after being diagnosed with asthma I was given a proventil inhaler, which didn’t always seem to work, followed by a maxair inhaler. Albuterol, or albuterol sulfate, is probably the most commonly prescribed medication for those with respiratory problems. Maxair is slightly different – pirbuterol acetate, and it did a slightly better job for me. They eventually came out with an auto-inhaler model that was sort of an inhaler-spacer hybrid. I loved Maxair. Maxair has served me well these past two decades plus change, but the United States Environmental Protection Agency deemed CFCs, the process of getting that wonderful drug out of the canister and into my air sacs, harmful to the environment, therefore banning all inhalers using them.
The result has been an entire new line of inhalers using HFAs to propel the medication in combination with new deployment devices containing counters and new copyrights, trademarks, and what have you. This is one of the big reasons medicine costs so much in this country.
If you search the web, you’ll find many official and non-official documented gripes against these new inhalers. Everything from rescue inhalers to steroid and combination maintenance inhalers have switched methods. If you really hate them, your other option is the powder based, inhaled meds, but those aren’t an option for everything.
I recently had to switch from Maxair to Proair, and while I was fully prepared to HATE IT, I’m actually enjoying it. The reason would be the extra thing I’m carrying everywhere.
That’s a spacer. You pop the inhaler into one end, puff-puff goes the magic dragon, and then you suck all that glorious, airway-opening magic into your mouth through the other end. Spacers are key to proper metered-dose-inhaler (MDI) use. If you are taking a daily steroid, LABA or combo inhaler you really need to be using a spacer. You can cheat on them with rescue meds cause you’re most likely in a pinch, but let me repeat that.
USE A SPACER
In addition to properly inhaling your new, unwanted medicine – keeping your tools clean is also important. Similar to cleaning out your nebulizer, you need to clean your spacer. Your MDIs probably also suggest some sort of regular rinsing/cleaning as well. The good news is all you have to do is rinse them out or drop them into some warm soapy water for a soak.