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Respiratory Medications > Learning Center > Inhalants



When most people think about medicines, they think about pills or maybe cough syrup. Not many people will think of inhalants; in fact, some people might only associate the term with illegal drug. But those who suffer from respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema know that inhalants are an important class of prescription drugs. They can include the mild steroids found in rescue and daily inhalers used by asthma sufferers. Or they can be the powerful medication given through a nebulizer to those hospitalized with a severe breathing problem. They work well for breathing difficulties because the medicine is absorbed directly into the respiratory system.

Many common breathing problems are caused by airways that are inflamed or closing up. A mist is formed by dispersing liquid medication in air; this is then inhaled by the sufferer, taking it straight to the inflamed airways that are causing the trouble. How strong of a medication and how often a person has to take it depend on the condition the person suffers from. Those with mild asthma may only need a rescue inhaler with a mild steroid for use when they have an attack. Moderate sufferers might have a daily inhaler as well, delivering a dose of inhaled steroids every morning to help prevent an attack. And those with severe problems might have a home nebulizer for frequent, concentrated treatments. For any type of breathing problem, inhalants are an effective medicine because they go directly to the source of the problem and can be prescribed at the ideal level.

Related Information

A nebulizer delivers a medicated mist directly to the airways for fast relief.

Pulmonary Treatment
Inhaled steroids are a common pulmonary treatment.