Asthma is a long-term condition causing breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness. In most cases, asthma can be kept under control by using asthma inhalers. Inhalers provide medication directly to the lungs, making them an easy and efficient way to take asthma medication.
The various inhalers work in different ways, but all give fast relief for asthma symptoms, by relaxing muscles that cause the airways to narrow and helping the user to breathe easily again.
Salbutamol is the active ingredient inside Ventolin inhalers. This medication causes the muscles in the airway to relax. It does this by engaging with beta-2 receptors in the lungs. Activation of these receptors relaxes the muscles in the lungs and opens the airways, allowing breathing to become easier.
Ventolin inhalers are called ‘relievers’ as they work rapidly when during an asthma attack. A sufferer can also use the Ventolin inhaler before taking exercise or before being exposed to allergens, such as animal fur and pollen. Ventolin inhalers allow the medicine to act directly on the lungs with minimal side effects.
Salbutamol is also the active ingredient inside Salamol, steri-nebs and easi-breathe inhalers. As with Ventolin inhalers, the medication stimulates beta-2 receptors in the lungs, allowing them to relax and open. With severe asthma, the user will benefit from using this inhaler regularly.
Seretide inhalers contain fluticasone and salmeterol. Fluticasone is a corticosteroid. This is a type of hormone produced by the adrenal glands, that is involved in inflammatory responses. Fluticasone mimics these natural hormones and blocks the release of certain chemicals that cause inflammation. Salmeterol, like Salbutamol, activates the beta-2 receptors in the lungs, encouraging them to relax. Together fluticasone and salmeterol reduce lung inflammation and relax and open the airways.
Seretide inhalers are usually prescribed to those with asthma that cannot be controlled by regular steroid (Qvar, Flixotide etc.) or ‘reliever’ inhalers (Ventolin and Salamol). They must be used frequently, usually twice a day, including when no asthma symptoms are present.
The Clenil Modulite inhaler is known as a ‘preventer’ inhaler. It is designed for daily use to prevent asthma attacks and reduce lung inflammation. The active ingredient is beclometasone, which is a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids can be used to block the release of chemicals that cause inflammation. Therefore, beclometasone should reduce lung inflammation, reducing the allergic and immune reactions of the lungs and therefore also reducing the risk of an asthma attack. Clenil Modulite inhalers can be used alongside a ‘reliever’ inhaler such as Ventolin or Salamol inhalers. After a few days using a Clenil Modulite inhaler, asthma sufferers usually begin to feel better.
Qvar inhalers are another form of ‘preventer’ inhaler. The active ingredient is a corticosteroid called beclometasone. This inhaler should be taken daily to reduce lung inflammation and prevent asthma attacks.
Flixotide inhalers contain fluticasone as the active ingredient. Fluticasone is a corticosteroid, that is able to reduce lung inflammation. After several days of use, the allergic and immune responses of the lungs should be lessened, preventing asthma attacks. Flixotide is normally taken twice a day and has few side effects.
Pulmicort respules/inhalers employ the corticosteroid, budesonide as the active ingredient. This reduces inflammation of the lungs, and therefore, it also reduces the risk of an allergic/immune response causing an asthma attack. After a few days of treatment, the user should feel better. Pulmicort inhalers can be used alongside a ‘reliever’ inhaler, such as Ventolin or Salamol. If a child is hospitalised with croup, they are likely to be prescribed a Pulmicort respule to reduce the inflammation of their lungs.
The Symbicort inhaler contains the active ingredients, budesonide and formoterol. It is used for patients with asthma that cannot be controlled by corticosteroids. However, budesonide is a corticosteroid, used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, and thereby to reduce the allergic asthmatic response. In Symbicort inhalers, the effects of budesonide are supported by formoterol. Formoterol activates on beta-2 receptors in the lungs. When this happens, the muscles in the lungs will relax and the airways will open, making it easier to breathe. After administration, formoterol will begin to work in under 3 minutes and can provide relief for up to 12 hours. Symbicort inhalers should be taken regularly and can be used alongside a separate ‘reliever’ inhaler (Ventolin or Salamol inhalers) if required, but this should only be advised for users over 18 years old.
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