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How do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Inhaler?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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When choosing the best over-the-counter inhaler product, it is important to consider key factors including what condition the inhaler is expected to treat, the reliability of the company that produces the product, and a physician's advice. Most inhalers, both over-the-counter or prescription, are used to treat the symptoms of asthma or bronchitis. They provide medications dispersed in a fine mist designed to be easily absorbed by the irritated tissues of the lungs. In both cases, the anticipated result is easier, less labored breathing and fast relief. Medical professionals strongly advise seeing a doctor to determine the cause of the patient's symptoms before buying any type of over-the-counter inhaler or other product to reduce the risk of choosing the wrong type of treatment.

Over-the-counter inhaler products are designed to treat the symptoms of either asthma or bronchitis. The inhalers intended for asthma contain epinephrine and ephedrine. Epinephrine is the chemical version of adrenaline, and is effective for encouraging the body to breathe more effectively by prompting the respiratory system to operate at full capacity, overriding the narrowing of the airways caused by the asthma condition. The inhalers for bronchitis offered over-the-counter are often less available, and generally contain many of the same ingredients as those intended for asthma relief. In most cases, bronchitis treatment needs to be specialized for each patient and will require a doctor's visit to receive the correct prescription inhaler.

Regardless of whether the patient is seeking relief from bronchitis or asthma, it is important to choose an over-the-counter inhaler manufactured by a reputable company. As these medications contain fast acting inhalants, high quality chemical compounds are essential for both reliability and safety. Patients can learn more about the inhalers offered, as well as the companies that manufacture them, online or through consumer watchdog organizations. Requesting the advice of a pharmacist or other trained professional is also a good way to ensuring the product is safe and reliable.

Many people choose to try to diagnosis and treat themselves without the aid of a qualified physician due to time constraints, limited insurance, or for other reasons. It is advisable to seek medical counsel when the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis appear, especially for those people who have not been diagnosed before. Improper treatment of either condition can allow the illness to progress and reach dangerous proportions. Before choosing an over-the-counter inhaler, patients are advised to speak to a doctor.

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Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Dec 29, 2014

Has anyone tried an over the counter product called a "Himalayan salt inhaler?" I came across this at the store the other day. Apparently the salt helps with asthma and other breathing problems. I though it might be a good idea for when I have the cold and can't breathe from the congestion. But I'm not sure if it's worth the cost because it's not all that cheap.

By literally45 — On Dec 29, 2014

@serenesurface-- I use an over the counter asthma inhaler. I agree with you that everyone should first speak to their doctor about their treatment. I have very mild asthma that only acts up when I come in contact with an allergen. I've never had a severe asthma attack. So over the counter bronchodilator inhalers work just fine for me. They do relieve my symptoms.

The only downside I've experienced is that some OTC inhalers have poor quality atomizers that can stop working after some time. That has been the only issue I've experienced with OTC inhalers in general. But I still recommend this for others who have mild and easily controlled asthma like me.

By serenesurface — On Dec 28, 2014

Over the counter inhalers are really not appropriate for asthma treatment. Asthma requires medication that acts very fast. Most people with asthma experience asthma attacks very suddenly. If treatment is not delivered immediately and if the medication doesn't act fast, it can be very dangerous for the patient.

That's why asthma patients are given prescription inhalers with medications that act much faster than what's available over-the-counter.

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