Short-Acting Beta AgonistUnderstanding the Mechanism of Asthma Inhalers

Understanding the Mechanism of Asthma Inhalers


Asthma inhalers are a vital tool in managing and controlling asthma symptoms for a majority of patients suffering from this chronic condition. This handheld device is designed to deliver medication directly into the lungs, providing rapid relief from severe asthma symptoms, like wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Understanding the mechanism of asthma inhalers goes a long way in their effective utilization in asthma management.

An Overview of Asthma Inhalers

Asthma inhalers are a form of ‘Metered Dose Inhalers’ or ‘MDIs’. They contain pressurized medication that, when inhaled, travels directly to the lung airways thus relieving symptoms. The main benefits of inhalers are the rapid action and the reduced side effects compared to drugs that need to go through the bloodstream. Two main types of medications used in asthma inhalers are Bronchodilators and Corticosteroids.


Bronchodilators work by relaxing the muscles that have tightened around the airways, allowing them to open up and making it easier for the patient to breathe. They are often used to provide quick relief from acute asthma symptoms and are also known as ‘reliever’ medicines.


Corticosteroids, or ‘preventers’, work by reducing inflammation and swelling in the airways over time. Regular use of this medication can prevent the onset of asthma attacks.

Working Mechanism of Asthma Inhalers

Delivery of the medication inside the lungs is a complex process which is efficiently carried out by the inhaler. When the inhaler is pressed, the medicine is released into the spacer or holding chamber in aerosol form. The medicine is immediately broken down into minute particles, which are then delivered to the lungs as the user inhales.

The medication follows the natural airflow within the lungs, reaching deep into the bronchial tubes to exert its function. For bronchodilator medication, it acts by relaxing the tightened muscles around these tubes, thereby allowing them to widen. On the other hand, corticosteroid medication reduces inflammation and swelling, making breathing easier.

Effective Use and Care of Asthma Inhalers

For inhalers to work effectively, it is critical that patients use them correctly. Inhaler technique includes steps of shaking the inhaler, exhaling fully, positioning of the inhaler, patient’s head tilt, inhalation and breath-hold time. It is important that patients are educated about the correct use of inhalers.

Caring for asthma inhalers is equally important. Each inhaler comes with patient instructions which should be read and understood. The mouthpiece should be regularly cleaned to prevent build-up of residue. Regular checks for the expiry date and counting of doses will ensure that patients never run out of necessary medication.


In conclusion, understanding the mechanism of asthma inhalers is important for effective management of asthma. These devices deliver medication directly to the lungs, providing a quick resolution of symptoms with minimal side effects. By familiarizing themselves with how inhalers work and how to use them correctly, patients can undoubtedly improve their disease management and enhance their overall quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often should I use my asthma inhaler?

    The frequency of inhaler use depends on your doctor’s instructions. Some people may need to use their inhaler daily, while others only during an asthma attack.

  • Can I use someone else’s inhaler?

    It is not advised to use someone else’s inhaler without consulting a health care provider. The medication and dosage might not be right for you.

  • How do I clean my asthma inhaler?

    You can clean your inhaler by removing the canister and rinsing the holder under warm water once a week. Let it air-dry completely before reassembling.

  • What should I do if my inhaler runs out and I cannot get a refill right away?

    If your asthma is worsening and you don’t have access to your inhaler, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

  • Can I take more than the recommended dose of asthma inhaler?

    Always use your inhaler as directed by your doctor. Using more than the recommended dose can lead to side effects and potentially serious health issues.


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