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Be a pro when using an OTC rescue inhaler

Be a pro when using an OTC rescue inhaler

December 6th, 2018 by Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. in Features

In the 1986 movie "Poltergeist II," Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) utters the memorable movie phrase, "They're baa-aack." If you haven't seen the film, spoiler alert! Scary things soon follow.

Well, keep that in mind: An over-the-counter asthma rescue inhaler—Primatene Mist—was pulled from the shelves in 2011 because it used an ozone-depleting propellant, chlorofluorocarbon. Now, it's baa-aack. This newer version (Food and Drug Administration-approved for folks 12 and older) uses hydrofluoroalkaline, which is more environmentally friendly.

Now, there's nothing wrong with the product (it contains epinephrine; prescription 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 that 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!


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit sharecare.com.


(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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