Medicine for asthma is most commonly taken through an inhaler, which gets the medicine straight into your lungs where it is needed. There are lots of different inhalers and it is very important that you know how to use yours properly. Up to 90% of people are thought to use their inhalers incorrectly, which means the dose of medicine isn’t getting into the lungs.
What shape inhaler do you use?
A puffer, or ‘metered dose inhaler’, is the most common type of inhaler. Puffers can also be used with a spacer to get more of the medicine into the lungs. Using a spacer with a puffer makes it easier to take the medicine, and also gets more of the medicine into the lungs so it works better. Generally, using a spacer with a puffer is much better than using a puffer alone.
- All children should use a spacer to take their medicine, both in reliever and preventer puffers.
- Adults and adolescents are recommended to always use a spacer with their preventer puffer, though they can use their reliever puffer with or without a spacer.
An autohaler is an L-shaped inhaler that works automatically when you start to breathe in. This means you don’t need to get the timing right like you do with a puffer.
An accuhaler is a circular plastic inhaler that is available with a number of different medicines. It has a counter to show how many doses are left. You need to be able to breathe in strongly so it’s not suitable for young children.
A turbuhaler is a rocket-shaped inhaler that is available with a number of different medicines. It has a counter to show how many doses are left. You need to be able to breathe in strongly so it’s not suitable for young children.
An Ellipta is a box-shaped inhaler with a counter on the front. When you open the cap a dose is loaded ready for you to breathe in.
If your medicine isn’t listed in the table, it might be that it’s not commonly prescribed for asthma. Call or email the 1800 ASTHMA Helpline to get more information on the less common medicines or you can also ask your doctor to explain more about your medicine