Miles Weinberger, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary 

For those who experience the heaving chests and wheezing breaths associated with asthma, inhalers have become a part of everyday life. Once the attack sets in, two quick puffs relax the bronchial muscles and everything is fine for a while. However, not everyone is aware of the medication found in asthma inhalers, or even the different types of inhalers that are available.

The most common asthma inhalers, also known as bronchodilators, contain the drug albuterol. These types of inhalers provide two to four hours of relief, and should be used as much as the patient needs it.

"If a person with asthma needs it, they should use it," advises Dr. Miles Weinberger, professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and a staff physician at the UI Hospitals & Clinics. "But if they're using it constantly, they may need a better maintenance medication to be used on a scheduled basis."

The constant need to use an inhaler may be a signal of more chronic respiratory problems, the symptoms of which may be masked by the short-term relief of an albuterol inhaler.

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