Over the counter asthma inhaler in a webp image

Inhalers are hand-held instruments which help deliver drugs into your airways and lungs, directly. These devices are widely used for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) like asthma, bronchitis or bronchial asthma. Use of drugs like salbutamol/albuterol is quite common among those living with such respiratory conditions. However, a few over the counter asthma inhalers are also available to ease these aforesaid breathing conditions. It helps to know more about over the counter asthma inhaler that help ease your breathing process.

Inhalers purchased through the over-the-counter route can be procured from online pharmacies or physical drugstores. You do not need prescriptions from a caregiver to buy an over-the-counter asthma inhaler. In general, these OTC offerings suit best to treat milder signs of respiratory conditions like wheezing or gasping for breath.

In other words, over the counter asthma inhalers offer only a temporary or a short-term relief to respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, panting, etc. Caregivers are known to prescribe Rx inhalers for the treatment of severe / acute spells of bronchial asthma or bronchitis.

Over the counter asthma inhaler

As a safety measure – even though you may procure an over-the-counter asthma inhaler – it is a safe practice to consult with a qualified chest physician or a healthcare professional prior to buying one. You also need to know that an over-the-counter asthma inhaler can never fully replace an Rx counterpart. Some of the popular form of OTC asthma inhalers are listed here-

Asthmanefrin – This is a popular CFC-free, over the counter asthma inhaler. This drug is known to have two forms of an active chemical called epinephrine. You are advised to provide with an interval of 3 hours in between two doses; owing to this precaution, it is never used more than 7 times within a 24-hour timeline. In most people – i.e., those with mild signs of breathing difficulties – this med offers needful relief within half-hour of taking a dose.

Primatene (Mist) – You can purchase this metered-dose inhaler i.e., MDI through the OTC route. It has a key ingredient called epinephrine. This chemical essentially is a bronchodilator; this can ease your air pathways and make them to open up. These actions lead to easier and unblocked respiratory cycles.

Vicks steam inhaler – This med brings about relief with the use of steam and vapopads (of Vicks); the latter is purchased separately. When inhaled, this inhaler helps open your bronchial airways and also soothes the tissues of your lungs as well as throat.

A few precautions to know of prior to using an OTC asthma inhaler

These OTC offerings may work adversely with a few drugs – especially, medications that influence neuro-transmitting substances like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. Also, those who are presently using monoamine oxidase inhibiting drugs (in short MAO inhibitors) must never use OTC inhalers like Asthmanefrin.

It is a good practice to tell your caregiver about all the medications you are currently taking. It is a good thing to make a list of all drugs you currently take. While you make this list, ensure to include OTC meds, supplements of vitamins, proteins or minerals, herbal formulations or dietary aids.

Last but not least, if you are encountering any adverse side effects – like migraines, being dizzy, high level of blood pressure (hypertension), rapid heartbeats, insomnia or other sleep-based disorders, it is important to inform a healthcare professional without much delay. In some cases, users may experience pain in their chest or an acute breathing problem; upon noticing such signs, call 911 (in the US) or Health Canada (if you are living in any of the Canadian provinces) without much delay.


Information provided here are only of supplementary nature. Information shared here does not substitute a qualified doctor’s advice. This website is not suggesting intake of this drug as safe or appropriate. Hence it is advised to talk to your doctor before consuming this med or any other drug.

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