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Different Breathing Treatments for Asthma and COPD

Different Breathing Treatments for Asthma and COPD
Akanksha Nigam

We have all felt short of breath after strenuous activity or exercise. Sometimes, even simply climbing a flight of stairs can leave you a little breathless. This is totally normal once in a while, but if shortness of breath is something that you experience often, it could be the sign of something as simple as an allergy or something more serious like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

If you often feel breathless, it is important to understand what is happening in your lungs. A qualified health professional will diagnose the issue and discuss ways for a treatment plan. 

Many treatment options are available to help manage these conditions, from medication to inhalers and nebulizers.

Inhalers are a great way to get medicine to the lungs because inhaled medicine works faster than a pill for asthma and allergies.

Breathing Treatments for Asthma and COPD

There are different types of breathing treatments, such as:

  1. Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI)
  2. Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI)
  3. Soft Mist Inhalers (SMI)
  4. Nebulizers

Read on to learn more about each type, its advantages, and disadvantages.

1. Metered Dose Inhalers

A metered dose inhaler is a pressurized canister that contains medication and fits into a mouthpiece. Medicine is released by pushing the canister into the mouthpiece.

Some MDIs release medicine automatically when inhaling, and some have built-in dose counters showing how many remaining doses are. If the inhaler does not have a counter, you must manually count the number of doses used. 

Children and the elderly may find it difficult to inhale medicine completely. Using a metered dose inhaler with a spacer or a valved holding chamber is a better alternative because it allows the user to inhale medicine slowly so that it reaches the lungs.

A spacer is a tube-like structure that holds medication between the inhaler and your mouth after it is released. A valved holding chamber is another form of spacer that has a one-way valve to regulate the flow of medicine for better delivery. 

Metered Dose Inhaler Advantages

  • Easily available for most inhaled medicines
  • Compact and easy to carry without a spacer

Metered Dose Inhaler Disadvantages

  • Requires coordination between pressing and breathing
  • Recommended to be used with a spacer
  • Includes a propellant that can cause throat irritation and affect the amount of medicine that reaches the lungs

HPFY Recommendation

Monaghan Aerobika Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy System

Specially recognized for saving lives and improving quality of life, the Monaghan system naturally clears mucus from the airways without drugs. As you exhale, it provides pulses of resistance which opens airways, loosens mucus, and moves it to smaller airways enabling you to cough it out. The device has five adjustable resistance levels to meet individual lung capacity. Its lightweight, ergonomic design fits easily in hand and can be used comfortably in any position.


2. Dry Powder Inhalers

Dry powder inhalers deliver powered medication to the lungs as you inhale. Powder inhalers for asthma require you to inhale more forcefully than a metered dose inhaler. This makes it unsuitable for older adults and people who have weak muscles or nerves. Also, you must avoid exhaling directly into the device before inhaling as that will scatter the powdered medicine before it can be consumed.  

DPI Advantages

  • Does not contain propellant
  • No coordination is required between pressing the canister and inhaling

Dry Powder Inhaler Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for children
  • Not recommended for people who have trouble inhaling deeply 

3. Soft Mist Inhalers

Medical equipment that dispenses doses of medication in the form of a mist has several advantages. Mist comes out slower and lasts longer than aerosol in MDIs. Designed with a button on one side that is pressed to release medication while breathing. Aerosol generation in SMIs is not dependent on the user's breathing efforts.

An SMI inhaler or Respimat soft mist inhaler is propellant-free and comes with a built-in dose counter to determine how many doses remain. The Respimat inhaler turns red when it is close to empty and locks after the medication has been used.

Mist inhalers are slightly larger than metered dose inhalers and can be used with a valved holding chamber or a mask for children.

Soft Mist Inhalers Advantages

  • Compact and portable
  • Does not require as much coordination as an MDI
  • Does not need a spacer 
  • Delivers more medication compared to an MDI

Soft Mist Inhalers Disadvantages

  • Every new inhaler needs to be loaded with a new medicine cartridge
  • Requires some strength to assemble the inhaler

4. Nebulizers

Using a nebulizer involves breathing through a mask. A nebulizer machine consists of an air compressor, a medicine cup, and a connecting tube. It delivers the medicine in the form of a mist which can be inhaled using a mouthpiece or a mask.

A nebulizer breathing treatment is ideal for those who cannot use an inhaler, such as infants, young children, seriously ill people, and those who need large doses of medication.

Advantages of Nebulizer

  • Does not require coordination between the device and the user
  • An easier, faster, and more convenient option than inhalers

Disadvantages of Nebulizer Machines

  • Not as effective as an inhaler
  • Not all nebulizers are portable

HPFY Recommendation

Pari Trek S Portable Compressor Nebulizer Aerosol System

A lightweight and compact nebulizer that offers powerful performance with shorter treatment times. Suitable for adult and pediatric patients, it delivers a consistent particle size of the medication with minimal waste. The device features soft jet technology, which delivers more than 65% of medication with 1.2X speed. It has a rechargeable battery that runs for 50 minutes continuously and can be recharged even when the compressor is in use.


Common Mistakes while using Inhalers

It may take some time to learn how to use an inhaler correctly. Below are some things to avoid which could reduce the effectiveness of your medication -

  • Not breathing out fully before using the inhaler
  • Breathing in too fast with a metered dose inhaler
  • Inhaling dry powder too slowly
  • Inhaling too late after pressing the canister of an MDI
  • Not holding your breath after inhaling the medicine
  • Not shaking the MDI before use
  • Failure to pump the inhaler 3-4 times before the first use (called priming)
  • Using an empty inhaler
  • Delayed inhaling when using a spacer
  • Forgetting to pierce the capsule in a single dose of DPI
  • Loading the inhaler the wrong way

The correct technique is vital to get the maximum medication benefit and effective delivery to the lungs. Consult your doctor about the types of inhalation devices that are best for your needs. Even if you have had asthma or COPD for a long time, it is better to talk to your doctor before using a new device or breathing treatment medicine. 

HPFY carries a wide range of nebulizers, spacers, and inhalers at affordable prices for treating respiratory problems. Shop Now!


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Akanksha Nigam

Akanksha Nigam

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Akanksha Nigam has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. With a Masters Degree in Finance, she began her Marketing career in the banking industry. However, her interest in human ...

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