Combination Inhalers for Asthma

Ada is a 13-year-old girl who is on medications for the treatment of asthma. She is on two inhalers; a salbutamol inhaler for quick relief of symptoms when they occur and a steroid inhaler for daily control with or without symptoms. However, using both inhalers is stressful for her, as she sometimes uses one and forgets the other. She wonders if there is another way to take both inhalers at the same time, a two-in-one inhaler.

What is a combination inhaler?

A combination inhaler is a medical device that delivers two medications at the same time for the treatment of asthma. It contains reliever (or bronchodilator) and steroid medications, which are delivered when the inhaler is used. It has been shown to be a better treatment for patients with moderate asthma, especially. 

Inhalers are used to manage respiratory diseases, such as asthma because they help deliver medications directly to the airways. Some inhalers contain reliever medications such as salbutamol, for the relief of symptoms when they occur. Others contain steroids for continuous use to prevent symptoms from occurring. However, steroids are also important when symptoms occur. Combination inhalers contain both medications.

When do I need a combination inhaler?

Here are examples of when you may need a combination inhaler:

  • You need to use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week.
  • Wake up with asthma symptoms more than twice a month.
  • Need another inhaler more than twice a week.

What are the advantages of a combination inhaler?

Combination inhalers contain both relief medications and steroid medications, and they can be used by asthma patients when they have problems controlling symptoms. Whenever they use their inhalers, they get the added benefit of a steroid. 

They may have fewer emergency visits to the hospital and fewer hospitalizations.

Some studies have shown that combination inhalers improve compliance and have a similar side effect profile as the use of separate inhalers for both medications. This makes combination inhalers a good choice for individuals who find difficulty in using both medications separately.

What are the disadvantages of combination inhalers?

Some medical conditions preclude the use of some, but not all, combination inhalers in asthma patients. An example is allergy to milk, as milk powder is an ingredient in some combination inhalers. Let your doctor know if you have milk allergy. 

Combination inhalers also carry the potential adverse effects of the two medicines in the combination. 


Combination inhalers are useful in managing moderate asthma. They are another way to reduce hospital admissions and improve the quality of life for people with asthma.


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