Asthma inhalers have been genuine life savers. They are to asthmatics what anti-venom is to snake bites. An asthma inhaler is part of the management process and sufferers always have them at the ready if an attack is imminent.

The best known inhaler is a canister that delivers a metered dose. This is used by millions worldwide, from young to old and provides a welcome safety net for sufferers. Other types include a device which emits a powder when inhaled while asthma medication via a nebulizer is distributed as a mist.

How Do Inhalers Work?

The history of the asthma inhaler dates back to well over one hundred years. It has undergone a lot of improvements during that time but the basic principle has remained the same. It's only been recently that the compound used in these inhalers, CFC, is being switched over to halo carbons which in some variety of inhalers, is said to deliver a greater rate of absorption and potency.

During an asthma attack, the constriction of the muscles in the bronchial tubes makes it difficult to breathe. The action of a bronchodilator helps relax the muscles, opening up the airways thus enabling the sufferer to breathe a lot easier. In many cases, athletes who suffer from asthma will use their inhalers before and during sport. It was only recently during an Aussie Rules play-off game that one of the games star players was seen using his inhaler. The fact that he was playing sport at the elite level again emphasised the fact that asthma doesn't have to control your quality of life.

Doctors will also encourage sufferers to use their inhalers before going to bed at night and first thing in the morning, preferably when they wake up.

While broncodilators are appropriate for short term relief, corticosteroids provide relief long term. They act by preventing the bronchial tubes from re-constricting and is generally metered out in a powder form. For best results, the use of both is usually recommended by medical practitioners.

Using Inhalers Correctly Is Critical

Asthma inhalers require a little getting used to when first introduced to an asthmatic. While they look simple to use, timing is very important. During an attack, a sufferer doesn't have a lot of time to think about the situation and will react instinctively when reaching for his/her inhaler. The mouthpiece is simply placed in the mouth but as the button or tube is being pressed, the user is required to breathe in strongly in unison with the press down motion. This enables the medicine to reach the lungs and following it's release from the inhaler, the user will usually exhale just as strongly. Again, timing is critical during the exhale motion because if it happens too early, then valuable medicine is lost in the process.

Remember, while describing how to use an inhaler properly may seem a little trivial to some, to an asthma sufferer it's critical. The aim of the inhaler is to get them breathing normally again as quickly as possible. People sometimes forget that asthma is a killer and the trusty inhaler has been responsible for saving more than one life during it's inception.

Author's Bio: 

Dean Caporella is a professional broadcaster. Have you ever considered just how important asthma inhalersare to sufferers? Read latest asthma related news and views at: