Using an inhaler when you don’t have asthma

If you have asthma but don’t use an inhaler, you might want to try a different treatment.

If you have asthma and also have trouble walking, talk to your doctor. They might recommend a corticosteroid inhaler. This medication is meant to control asthma symptoms. They could also prescribe an over-the-counter “breathing” treatment to help you breathe better.

If you don’t have asthma, but you have trouble breathing, you might need to use an inhaler. Talk to your doctor about which inhaler might work best so you can keep using it.

How to use inhalers?

The type of inhaler you use depends on the reason you’re using it.

  • If you have asthma, you’ll probably use an inhaler that contains a corticosteroid. An inhaler that contains a bronchodilator will help you breathe better.
  • If you only have a cough, you may only need to use an inhaler with a bronchodilator.
  • If you have COPD, you’ll use an inhaler that contains the medications used to treat your COPD.

If you’re using an inhaler for any reason, follow these steps:

  1. Place the mouthpiece of the inhaler under your tongue.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your mouth.
  3. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
  4. Open your mouth and exhale slowly through your mouth.

If you’re using an inhaler to help you breathe better, be sure to take it on an empty stomach. Don’t eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes before your refill.

Take your inhaler exactly as prescribed. Don’t skip doses or stop taking your medication.

What if you miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This can cause dangerous side effects.

What should you not use an inhaler for?

You should never use an inhaler for a non-asthma condition unless your doctor says it’s okay.

If you’ve been diagnosed with an asthma attack, you should treat it with your regular asthma medications. Talk to your doctor if you have other symptoms along with asthma.

You shouldn’t use an inhaler if you:

  • Are allergic to the medicine
  • Have a fever
  • Are pregnant
  • Have an infection
  • Have a heart condition
  • Have kidney disease
  • Have liver disease
  • Have a stomach ulcer
  • Have trouble swallowing
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Have a history of severe asthma attacks

Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Fainting

What is the expiration date on an inhaler?

The expiration date on an inhaler is when the medicine will no longer work. You should not use an inhaler past its expiration date. Even if the date on the inhaler reads “expired,” you should not use it. If you don’t completely empty the inhaler, the medicine will remain in your lungs.

Even if the inhaler has passed its expiration date, talk to your doctor. You should use your inhaler according to the instructions that come with it. If your doctor told you to use it exactly as directed, you should not use it past the expiration date.

What happens during a severe asthma attack?

A severe asthma attack can cause you to lose consciousness. For some people, this can be life threatening. If you lose consciousness, seek help from an emergency room.

Severe asthma is treated with an inhaler. You’ll need to use your inhaler every time you have an asthma attack.

How can I prevent an asthma attack?

The best way to prevent an asthma attack is to avoid asthma triggers. The following list includes things you can do to help keep your asthma under control.

  • Breathe into a paper bag if you’re outside.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Use an inhaler every day to help you breathe better.
  • Get enough sleep every night.
  • Do regular exercise.
  • Take your regular medication.
  • Keep your lung function up by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy foods, and quitting smoking.

What are the symptoms of an asthma attack?

The symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Wheezes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Tightness in the chest

When should I seek medical help?

You should seek emergency help if:

  • You have wheezes that don’t go away
  • Your asthma attack is severe
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You’re having trouble sleeping
  • Your asthma attack makes you feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • You have trouble speaking
  • You have a fever

How do I take my inhalers?

You should use an inhaler according to the instructions that come with it. If you don’t completely empty the inhaler’s chamber, the medicine in the chamber will stay in your lungs.

The best way to take your inhaler is to use it on an empty stomach. Don’t take it if you’re taking a drug that affects how your body absorbs the medicine, such as aspirin.

If you forget to take your inhaler, don’t take two inhalers at once. Take your inhaler as soon as you remember and then wait 30 minutes before taking your next dose. This will give your body time to absorb the medicine.

If you need to use a rescue inhaler, use it as soon as possible. If you don’t have a rescue inhaler, you should use a short-acting beta-agonist inhaler (not a bronchodilator).

What if I have trouble breathing?

If you’re having trouble breathing, you should call 911. If you’re not able to speak, try to breathe in and out as slowly as you can.

What if I’m having trouble swallowing?

If you’re having trouble swallowing, you should talk to your doctor. They might prescribe a feeding tube.

What if I’m having trouble breathing?

You should call 911 if you’re having trouble breathing. If you can’t speak, try to breathe in and out slowly.

Who can help me with my asthma?

Asthma can be difficult to manage. If you can’t keep track of your asthma medications, ask your doctor to help you. They can also help you learn how to keep track of your medications.

Can I stop my asthma medication?

You can stop your asthma medication at any time. However, you should not stop your asthma medication without your doctor’s approval.

If your inhaler has an expiration date, you should only use it until the date printed on the inhaler. Once that date has passed, you should not use your inhaler.

Talk to your doctor if you’re not able to use your inhaler on the day it’s expired.

Will my insurance cover my asthma medication?

If you’re currently being treated with asthma medication, ask your doctor to tell you exactly what your copays and out-of-pocket costs will be.

Your insurance company may or may not cover the cost of your asthma medications. Be sure to ask if you are enrolled in any health or wellness programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, that may help you pay for your asthma medications.

How can I protect my asthma?

You can protect your asthma by making sure you:

  • Avoid asthma triggers.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Keep your lung function up by getting plenty of rest, eating healthy foods and quitting smoking.
  • Use your inhaler as prescribed.
  • Keep your home clean.

When should I call my doctor?

If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you should call your doctor if you:

  • Have any changes in your symptoms
  • Have any new or worsening symptoms
  • Have any new or worsened side effects from your medication
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Have trouble speaking

What is the long-term outlook for people with asthma?

The asthma attack can be scary. You should know that it’s a treatable condition. If you follow your treatment plan and take your medications as prescribed, you should be able to keep your asthma under control.

If you continue to have flare-ups, talk to your doctor. They can help you learn to manage your asthma better.

How can I learn more about asthma?

You can learn more about asthma at the American Lung Association. They have a great asthma fact sheet you can print out and carry with you as you go through your day.

Ask your doctor to help you learn more about your asthma. They can also help you learn how to keep track of your asthma medications.

Takeaway

Asthma is a chronic condition that can lead to serious complications. It can make it hard to breathe. If you’re having trouble breathing, call 911.

If you’re not able to breathe on your own, talk to your doctor. They can help you learn how to manage your asthma

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