The long-term condition asthma, which causes breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness, can be kept under control in most cases by using asthma inhalers. Inhalers provide medication directly to the lungs when breathed in and little goes elsewhere, making them an efficient and easy way to take asthma medication. The various inhalers work in different ways but all give fast relief for asthma symptoms, relaxing muscles that cause the airways to narrow and helping the user to breathe easily again.

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Ventolin Inhalers

Ventolin inhalers contain salbutamol as the active ingredient. This medication is a short-acting beta 2 agonist that works on the beta 2 receptors in the lungs, stimulating them to encourage the muscles in the airways to relax. This helps the airways to open to enable breathing to become easier. Ventolin inhalers allow the medicine to act directly on the lungs with minimal side effects.

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 come as evohalers and accuhalers:

  • The Ventolin evohaler is called a metered dose inhaler (also known as an MDI or aerosol inhaler) delivering the medication in the form of a mist or fine spray. To use the inhaler, it’s simple to press down on the canister and breathe in the spray.
  • The Ventolin accuhaler is based on a dry powder and is supplied with powder-containing blisters. To use the inhaler, slide a lever to open a blister then inhale through the mouthpiece.

Salamol Inhalers

The Salamol inhaler, steri-nebs and easi-breathe inhaler all have salbutamol as the active ingredient. This medication is a short-acting beta 2 agonist and it works through acting on the lung’s beta 2 receptors. As salbutamol stimulates these receptors, the airways relax and open.

When the user experiences narrowing of the airways through chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma, it’s difficult for air to circulate through to the lungs. As it opens the airways, Salbutamol facilitates the breathing. This type of inhaler is called a metered dose inhaler (MDI) and provides medication as an aerosol in a fine spray or mist.

To use the Salamol inhaler, simply press down on the canister and breathe the spray at the same time. The inhaler requires the user to breathe deeply as the spray is released and keep breathing afterwards too. With severe asthma, the user will benefit from using this inhaler regularly and may also be prescribed nebules for home use in a nebuliser.


A Seretide inhaler is an MDI or aerosol inhaler and it can also be based on dry powder. The powder version contains blisters with separate medication doses. Each dose is taken by sliding the inhaler’s lever to open a blister then breathing deeply and steadily.

The Fluticasone and Salmeterol combination of medication used in Seretide inhalers helps those with asthma that regular steroid or reliever inhalers can’t control. It needs to be used frequently, including when no asthma symptoms are present. Seretide will reduce inflammation in the lungs, opening the airways.

The inhaler works through the effective combination of Fluticasone and Salmeterol:

  • Fluticasone is what’s known as a corticosteroid, which are hormones produced naturally by the adrenal glands. These hormones control inflammatory responses and, by mimicking these, Fluticasone reduces lung inflammation. Inhaling Fluticasone absorbs it into the airways and lungs and the medication works by blocking the release of certain chemicals that cause inflammation.
  • Salmeterol is a long-acting beta 2 agonist that acts on beta 2 lung receptors, stimulating them and encouraging the airway muscles to relax. The combination of medications works directly on the lungs and Seretide inhalers are normally needed twice a day.

Clenil Modulite

This is an MDI/aerosol inhaler. The active ingredient in this inhaler is beclometasone, which is a corticosteroid. These are hormones that the adrenal glands produce naturally and beclometasone is a synthetic version of these hormones to reduce lung inflammation.

The Clenil Modulite inhaler is called a ‘preventer’ and is designed for daily use to prevent asthma attacks and reduce lung inflammation. Asthma sufferers normally start to feel better after a few days using this inhaler, which can also be used along with a reliever inhaler. The reliever inhaler first opens the airways and then the user inhales the dose from the Clenil Modulite inhaler.


Qvar inhalers are MDI ‘preventer’ inhalers containing beclometasone dipropionate as the active ingredient, a corticosteroid. This inhaler should be taken daily to reduce lung inflammation and stop asthma attacks. Qvar can be taken using CFC-free inhalers, easi-breathe and autohalers, all of which contain the same active ingredient.

Corticosteroids help to control the body’s inflammatory responses and beclometasone is a synthetic version used to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Inhaling beclometasone absorbs the medication into the airways and lungs and the medication prevents certain chemicals from being released that can lead to allergic and immune responses. Qvar inhalers can be used along with reliever inhalers and are normally used several times a day.

The inhaler is activated by pushing a lever and breathing in deeply and steadily as the medication is released into the mouth. When finished, the user should remove the mouthpiece holding his/her breath for approximately ten seconds then breathe out steadily.


Flixotide can be used as an inhaler as well as nebules and they both contain Fluticasone Propionate as the active ingredient. This is a corticosteroid, which is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands to control inflammatory responses. When inhaled, Fluticasone acts as a ‘preventer’, reducing inflammation in the lungs and preventing asthma symptoms and attacks. Relief will normally be experienced after several days of using the inhaler. As the user inhales the Fluticasone into the lungs, the cells of the lungs and airways absorb the medication. It then works by blocking the release of specific chemicals that play a role in the immune system, producing allergic and immune responses to cause inflammation. The medication acts directly on the lungs where most needed and with little side effects. Flixotide inhalers are normally taken twice a day and come in two different types, the accuhaler and the evohaler.

Flixotide evohaler is a metered dose inhaler (sometimes called an MDI or aerosol inhaler) that delivers the medicine as a fine spray or mist. Flixotide accuhaler is a dry powder inhaler, which comes pre-loaded with blisters containing individual doses of the medicine as a powder.


Pulmicort respules and turbohaler both use budesonide as the active ingredient and this is a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are hormones that the adrenal glands naturally produce and they have vital functions such as controlling inflammatory responses. The synthetic corticosteroid budesonide is used to reduce lung inflammation. When inhaled, budesonide is absorbed into the airways and cells of the lungs and prevents certain chemicals from being released by the cells. These chemicals play an important role in the immune system and produce allergic reactions that lead to inflammation. Reducing the release of these chemicals in the airways and lungs reduces inflammation.

The pulmicort inhaler is a ‘preventer’ and is taken daily to prevent asthma attacks and reduce inflammation in the lungs. The user normally feels better after a few days of starting treatment. Pulmicort respules use a nebuliser, which changes the liquid medicine within the respules into particles, which are then inhaled, and delivers a higher dose of the medication than standard inhalers. Pulmicort respules can reduce lung inflammation and are particularly useful for children who have to be hospitalised with croup.

The Pulmicort turbohaler is a dry powder inhaler and the medication is in powder form that’s ready to inhale. It’s designed for everyday use and can be used at the same time as the reliever inhaler, which should be used first to open the airways, followed by the Pulmicort inhaler. You need to remove the white cover To use this inhaler, remove the white cover and then, keeping the inhaler upright, turn the grip at the bottom in one direction as far as it will move and repeat this in the other direction until it clicks. This means that the inhaler is ready to use by placing the mouthpiece in the mouth and breathing in deeply with a certain amount of force before removing the mouthpiece and breathing normally again.


The Symbicort inhaler contains budesonide and formoterol fumarate as its active ingredients. It’s used for those whose asthma can’t be controlled using corticosteroids, which are hormones naturally produced in the adrenal glands. They regulate inflammatory responses and budesonide is a synthetic version which reduces inflammation in the lungs. When inhaled, budesonide is absorbed into the airways and the cells in the lungs. It then prevents the release of specific chemicals which play a role in triggering the immune system to produce allergic responses leading to inflammation.

The Symbicort inhaler is a single inhaler that simplifies treatment if using a bronchodilator inhaler as well as a corticosteroid inhaler. Symbicort can be taken regularly to prevent asthma and used with a separate reliever inhaler too. The other option is to use it regularly to stop asthma attacks as well as using it as a reliever to relieve the symptoms of attacks. This method is only advisable for those aged 18 or over.

Symbicort is often used for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and who suffer frequent breathlessness, even though they regularly use long-acting bronchodilators such as salmeterol or formoterol. Symbicort comes in different strengths and those that are 200/6 and 400/12 are used in the treatment of COPD.

The other medication used in this inhaler, Formoterol, is what’s known as a bronchodilator or long-acting beta 2 agonist that acts on beta 2 receptors in the lungs. When the medication stimulates these receptors, the user will experience a relaxation of the muscles in the airways and they’ll open so making it easier to breathe. After administration, Formoterol begins to work in less than three minutes and providing relief for up to 12 hours.

Inhaling this combination of medication means it can act on the lungs directly with few side effects. Metered dose inhalers require the user to press a canister and breathe in at the same time but the Symbicort inhaler allows the user to breathe through the mouthpiece and the medication will be released into the lungs. It’s important to breathe in deeply and with force to make sure the optimal dose is delivered to the lungs.

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