When you use inhaled
asthma medicine, you usually use a device that
delivers the medicine directly to your lungs. Different types of delivery
systems are available. And one type may be more suitable for certain people,
age groups, or medicine than another. The following table describes how asthma
medicines may be delivered.
Types of asthma medicines
| Delivery system and
medicines || Age group || What to think about|
metered-dose inhaler (MDI) with:
- Doctors recommend the use of a
spacer with a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). The spacer
is attached to the MDI. A spacer may deliver the medicine to your child's lungs
better than an inhaler alone and, for many people, is easier to use than an MDI
alone. Using a spacer with inhaled
corticosteroid medicine can help reduce their side effects and
result in less use of oral corticosteroid medicine.
- A spacer is recommended for children age 5 and older.
- A spacer and a face mask are recommended for children younger than
- Using a spacer with an MDI may be just as effective as and less
expensive than a nebulizer and can reduce the risk of an overdose.
- If you don't use a spacer, you need to trigger a puff of medicine
and inhale at the same time.
dry powder inhaler (DPI) with:
- Children 4 years and older and
- How well it works may depend on how well
you breathe in.
- Your doctor determines the amount of medicine you
use based on how much air you can breathe in. It also may be different than the
amount used in some MDIs.
- DPIs may be easy to use, but they may be
difficult to use during an
asthma attack because you need to be able to breathe
well to get the best effect.
- Any age that cannot use an MDI with a
- A nebulizer uses a
face mask or
mouthpiece to deliver the medicine.
medicine can be given over a long period of time.
- Nebulizers may be
helpful for those who are ill, have serious difficulty breathing, or have
trouble using an inhaler—especially infants, very young children, and older
- A nebulizer is not very precise in delivering medicine, and
there is a risk of getting too much medicine (overdose).
- A nebulizer needs electricity to turn the medicine into a fine mist. Some nebulizers have a large compressor that does this. Other ones are portable and come with batteries.
Asthma in Children
Asthma in Teens and Adults