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Friday, March 24, 2023

How to Manage Your Asthma During the Albuterol Shortage

Posted By: Advancing Care

About 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma — a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the airways. Many of these people depend on albuterol to help them breathe normally during an asthma attack.

Recently, one manufacturer of albuterol filed for bankruptcy, leading to a nationwideshortage of liquid albuterol, typically given through a nebulizer to patients with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19 and influenza. While most people who use albuterol for asthma take it through a bronchodilator inhaler, it’s good to be prepared in case this life-saving medication is hard to get.

Karyi Coyle, MD

Visit Your Doctor

If you’re worried about the albuterol shortage, the best thing you can do is talk to your healthcare provider.

“Your provider can determine if you could use a different nebulized medication to treat your condition, or if you can use the inhaler form of albuterol, as a replacement for the nebulized form,” says Karyi Coyle, MD, a pulmonologist at Westchester Medical Center.“A spacer device can be added to the albuterol inhaler to improve the ease of use and delivery of medication.However, there are some patients that will still require the nebulized form, due to their level of illness or inability to inhale the medication correctly.”

Follow Your Asthma Action Plan

Be sure to go over your Asthma Action Plan with your healthcare provider. This will help you determine your level of symptoms and whether you should take your preventive medication, fast-acting medication or seek emergency care.

“Knowing how to manage your asthma can help you stay proactive when it comes to symptoms,” says Dr. Coyle. “In addition, you should not overuse your albuterol inhaler. “If you’re using a quick-relief inhaler more than twice per week to treat symptoms, your asthma is not being well managed and you should visit your provider.”

Avoid Triggers

Everyone has different asthma triggers, so you should be familiar with yours so you can avoid them as much as possible. Common triggers include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Physical exercise
  • Allergies
  • Dust mites
  • Pests
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • A common cold or sinus infection

“Try to keep your home as clean as possible, and use an air filter if you can,” says Dr. Coyle “Continue to treat any allergies you may have with preventive medicine, and avoid interacting with people who are sick to reduce your risk of contracting a respiratory virus.”

If you’re having trouble getting your albuterol inhaler refilled, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) shared that recently expired inhalers are safe to use, but they might be less effective.

To learn more about asthma diagnosis and treatment or to make an appointment with a WMCHealth pulmonary specialist.

Learn more about Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Westchester Medical Center.