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This OTC Inhaler Can Provide Temporary Asthma Relief

This OTC Inhaler Can Provide Temporary Asthma Relief

Learn about the newly FDA-approved inhaler that can save your lungs.

An over-the-counter (OTC) asthma rescue inhaler—Primatene Mist—was pulled from the shelves in 2011 because it used an ozone-depleting propellant, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC): Now, it’s back. This newer version (FDA-approved for folks 12+) uses hydrofluoroalkaline (HFA), which is more environmentally friendly.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the product (it contains epinephrine; Rx rescue inhalers contain albuterol or levalbuterol). But people do misuse rescue inhalers. Too many rely on them instead of a long-term asthma control regimen. That leaves them at risk for repeated breathing crises and hospitalization.

As the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology puts it: “Long-term control medications are used in only about half of the asthmatic patients for whom they are recommended. At the same time, quick-relief inhalers are used at a level that would signify very poorly controlled asthma.”

If you have asthma, you always want to have a rescue inhaler with you. It can be life-saving. But remember it’s only for temporary relief of mild, intermittent asthma. So don’t just pop into a drugstore and buy one. Check with your asthma doc first to see if this product is right for you—and get an up-to-date long-term control regimen set up. In our view, it is essential to prevent or delay lung damage. Then follow it like a pro!

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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