Asthma Patients Often Find Their Inhalers Expired or Empty


Patients always turn to available rescue medications during asthma attacks, but unfortunately, they could find that their inhalers are expired or empty. According to a recent study, it was found that about a half of respondents found that their inhalers were empty or expired during asthma attacks. The finding was recently presented by an allergist, William Storms MD, in the Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting.

About a third of asthma patients said that among improvements they would like to see on current inhalers are dose counters. The FDA has encouraged that counters should be included in inhalers a few years ago, but they are not yet established as requirements.

Patients could always ask doctors to prescribe them inhalers with counters, but health insurance firms often required generic inhalers with no dose counters. Many inhalers without counters may appear to be working after being empty, although it longer dispenses medication. As a comparison only 12 percent respondents said that they found the counters-equipped inhalers empty. Empty dispensers have led to visits to the emergency department by ten percent of the respondents. This resulted in missed school or work, due to unscheduled physician visits or treatments. It’s quite surprising that many respondents indicated that they don’t keep inhalers at hand, at all times. Guidelines recommended that all asthma patients should always bring at least an inhaler with them.


There should be inhalers in easily accessible locations, including medicine cabinet, car and gym bag; but most of the respondents said that they have an inhaler in the purse or pocket. But having multiple inhalers in different places can cause one more problem. Some of these inhalers could be used less frequently and not yet expended well beyond their expiration dates. One common method to solve this problem is to regularly check the inhalers and replace them when necessary. But in reality, people with busy lifestyle may easily forget to do this task.

There are different types of inhalers. Nebulizers are probably the most potent. They dispense a mist of medication directly into the lung, but there could be some side effects. Their uses are mostly limited to the most severe forms of asthma. DPIs or Dry Powder Inhalers deliver measured dose of powdered medications to the lung. Users put the mouthpiece into their mouth and hold their breath for about ten seconds. Although effective, some users don’t prefer them because DPIs may invoke coughing.