Inhalers and Nebulizers
Although some metered-dose inhalers still use chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) to propel the medication directly into the lungs, most inhalers have been replaced with devices that do not use CFC. CFC, although safe for the person to inhale, is known to damage the earth's ozone layer -- a shield that protects the earth against harmful sun rays. Other devices that previously used CFC, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, have already been changed to non-CFC alternatives.
- Metered-dose inhaler (MDI). The most common type of inhaler, the metered-dose inhaler uses a chemical propellant (hydrofluoroalkane, or HFA) to carry the medication out of the inhaler. As of December 31, 2011, MDIs sold in the United States may no longer use ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the medication.
A metered-dose inhaler is held in front of or inserted into the mouth as the medication is released in puffs. Consult your doctor for specific instructions on how to properly use a metered-dose inhaler.
- Nebulizer. A nebulizer is a type of inhaler that sprays a fine, liquid mist of medication. This is done through a mask, using oxygen or air under pressure, or by using an ultrasonic machine (often used by people who cannot use a metered-dose inhaler, such as infants and young children, and people with severe asthma). A mouthpiece is connected to a machine via plastic tubing to deliver medication to the patient. Consult your doctor for specific instructions on how to properly use a nebulizer.
- Dry powder or rotary inhaler. A breath-activated, nonpressurized dry powder inhaler that may be used for children and adults, this type of inhaler does not use CFCs to propel the medication out of the device. Consult your doctor for specific instructions on how to properly use a dry powder or rotary inhaler.
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Online Resources of Respiratory Disorders