5. Thinking a written prescription for a COPD inhaler means
the patient knows when to use it: The drug's purpose.
For treatment purposes all inhalers for COPD & asthma fall into one of
two broad categories:
a) to provide quick relief ('rescue inhalers') and
b) to improve chronic symptoms and prevent flareups ('maintenance inhalers'). Examples of rescue inhalers are albuterol (brand names Proventil HFA, ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA) and ipratropium bromide (brand name Atrovent). Combivent contains a combination of albuterol and ipratropium bromide. Maintenance inhalers include any inhaled steroid (IS), either alone (brand names Azmacort, Qvar, Pulmicort, etc.) or in combination with a 'long acting bronchodilator' (LABD; brand names Symbicort, Advair). PROBLEM: The SAME type of delivery device (size, shape, mechanism of action) is commonly used for both rescue and maintenance inhalers. For example, as shown below, ProAir HFA (a rescue inhaler, on left) and Symbicort (a maintenance inhaler, on right) both come packaged as pressurized metered dose inhalers, and both are deep red in color. There is nothing intuitive about this. For a patient who may have both inhalers (quite common), and who becomes short of breath, it is all too easy to forget which is which.
CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.