Reliever medications aren't used to prevent asthma attacks like preventer treatments, but rather to provide quick relief during or before an attack. This is because reliever medications don't help with inflammation; they help to open the airways and immediately ease breathing in the case of an attack.
Depending on the severity of your asthma, you may be prescribed a reliever treatment alongside a preventer if you experience strong asthma symptoms. Most people with milder forms of asthma will likely be prescribed a reliever inhaler to use as needed. Reliever inhalers may also be prescribed in a preventative sense to people who find that they suffer from exercise-induced asthma.
Relievers will most likely be prescribed to you in an inhaler form, although treatments such as Ventolin are also available in tablets, syrup or injections. Ventolin is one of the most commonly used reliever medications, and works as a bronchodilator because it delivers a type of treatment known as a short-acting beta-agonist to the airways, where it causes the airways to open up wider and allow air to flow more freely.
Types of reliever inhalers
Reliever inhalers can be divided into two types that are commonly used, similarly to preventer inhalers. Below is an outline of the different types of reliever inhalers and which may be more suitable for you.Puffers
Puffers can also be called aerosols or in the case of Ventolin, an Evohaler. These treatments contain a compressed version of medication, which gets released into the mouth as a canister is depressed. It's important that the medication is released into the mouth as you inhale.
However, if you have difficulty controlling your breathing you could use a spacer, which is a device that can be used alongside your inhaler.
Sometimes small children or adults who find it difficult to operate an inhaler due to a medical condition may find it difficult to use puffers like the Evohaler, which is why dry powder alternatives may be better.Dry powder inhalers
Dry powder inhalers can also sometimes be called Accuhalers. These can be used if you find it difficult to use a puffer inhaler, because they don't require you to perform too many actions at once. With the Accuhaler, you simply need to pull a lever; this punctures a blister pack containing a capsule and crushes it. After having pulled the leaver, the powder should then be inhaled. This should then provide almost immediate relief as they contain micro particles of short-acting beta-agonist mediation.
It's important to note that the dry powder also contains lactose, so it's not advisable if you aren't able to consume products containing lactose. In this case it might be better to use a puffer, or speak to your doctor about using a reliever medication in tablet form, injection or syrup.
Relievers vs. preventers
Some medication used to prevent asthma symptoms can also contain small doses of reliever medications like salmeterol for example, which acts like a long-acting bronchodilator. These types of preventer medications can often be prescribed on their own without a reliever; however they can't be used as a reliever treatment.
If you are prescribed a reliever, it's important that you always carry it with you, even if you are using a preventer treatment, as relievers can help prevent mild symptoms from turning into a more serious attack.