Can inhalers be used to help with a cough and other conditions?
Asthmatics carry inhalers that have been prescribed for asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing caused by the condition, but are there other problems that an inhaler can help with?
Medications often have 'side effects' that are actually beneficial and can offer a further positive impact on that person's life. For example…
- The combined pill is prescribed as a contraceptive, but it also manages heavy periods and can improve bad skin to such a high level that the pill can be prescribed without pregnancy prevention being the ultimate aim.
- Viagra was developed as a heart condition and blood pressure medicine until trials discovered it produced some impressive erections.
- Antibiotics cure a range of illnesses all caused by bacteria including UTIs, STIs, chest infections - the list is endless. In fact, you can be prescribed the same medication for a chlamydia infection as well as prevention against malaria.
It goes to show that medications can be wide ranging in their benefits.
The aim of asthma medications is to relax the airways and reduce inflammation to allow more air intake. So what else can this help with? And will your doctor supply an inhaler for that purpose?
Let's take a look at what other conditions inhalers can help with...
Colds can cause a persistent cough that leaves people exhausted and unable to sleep. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a temporary inhaler for a serious cough or cold, particularly if the patient's chest feels tight - but this doesn't necessarily mean they have asthma.
Asthma inhalers soothe airways and suppress the need to cough so much. They can allow you the peace to recover. If an inhaler such as Ventolin doesn't help, and the cough worsens, it's important to see a doctor again in case there's an underlying infection or other problem.
Some people suffer from allergic rhinitis - a reaction to an allergen such as pollen, animal hair or dust. Dr Jean Emberlin, scientific director of Allergy UK, believes over the past 30 years numbers of hayfever sufferers have doubled. In winter months, hayfever sufferers may not be bothered by symptoms, but when the weather warms up they may start to notice symptoms such as a cough, itchy throat or tight chest.
Again, if your cough is persistent, you can visit your doctor and suggest an inhaler. The doctor will review your particular severity of the condition and may prescribed a reliever inhaler as temporary treatment.
Those with cystic fibrosis sometimes suffer from a build of mucus in their lungs. When used with other treatments to remove mucus or infections an asthma inhaler can reduce inflammation and open up airways. This is important because repeat infections can damage lungs.
COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This includes illnesses such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that cause serious breathing difficulties.
Over time, symptoms can worsen. Asthma inhalers help COPD sufferers to breathe by opening airways and allowing more oxygen into the lungs. Inhalers doesn't cure COPD, but they can hugely improve quality of life.
Always See Your Doctor For Breathing Issues
Asthma inhalers such as Ventolin and Sabutamol work by opening airways. Inflamed, irritated and sore airways can be symptoms of many illnesses, not just asthma, so bear in mind if you're experiencing a cough or breathing issue you must visit your doctor.
Asthma still kills three people a day in the UK so it's important to find out if you've developed asthma or another serious condition. Don't just take an inhaler for a long-term cough because asthma can occur at any age. Moving to a different area, a change in weather, flu or smoking can trigger it.
Just to be on the safe side - get yourself checked over.