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The Best Inhalers to Treat Asthma

Por Consumer Reports -
The Best Inhalers to Treat Asthma
CRÉDITO: THINKSTOCK

According to statistics from the Office For Minority Health, 3.6 million Latinos suffer from asthma, making the Hispanic community a principal victim of the condition. There has been a 30% increase in the number of Hispanics who rush to the emergency room due to asthma, and Latin American children have a 40% higher risk of dying from it. In order to lower these numbers, it is imperative to adopt the right preventive measures. Inhalers are one of the best options. In the next paragraphs you'll find key information a comparative view of prices.

Inhaled steroids, or inhalers, are used to treat asthma. They help prevent symptoms, reducing emergency room visits.

If you have asthma attacks more than twice a week, talk to your doctor about using an inhaler.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease in which the airways, the tiny tubes that carry air through the lungs, become irritated. When the airways become inflamed, they can swell and fill up with mucus and make it hard to breathe.

How is Asthma Treated?

Some people only need treatment during an asthma attack. Many people, however, also need treatment that will prevent attacks from happening.

  • Treatment during an asthma attack: Anyone who has asthma should carry a "quick-relief" inhaler to use in the case of an attack. 
  • Asthma attack prevention: If you suffer from asthma attacks more than twice a week, you should use an inhaler to help prevent attacks. (Long-acting bronchodilators—also known as LABAs—are also preventive, but they can have serious side effects.)

Should you use an inhaler or take a pill?

Inhalers act directly on the airways. You can use a lower dose instead of taking a steroid pill, reducing the risk of side effects.

Avoid attack-causing "triggers"

Many things can cause asthma attacks. These are called "triggers." You can help prevent attacks by avoiding them. Common triggers include smoking, pet dander, and mold.

Side effects and safety of inhalers

  • The most common side effects of using inhalers are: mouth and throat irritation, cough, and hoarseness, and they usually go away.
  • Another side effect is a mouth or throat infection called "thrush," which can be prevented by using a spacer device and rinsing your mouth well with water each time you use your inhaler.
  • Talk to your doctor before using inhalers if you are pregnant.
  • Always let your doctor know if you are taking any medications or supplements.

Our Advice

All the inhaled steroids work well to reduce symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. Two drugs earn our Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs distinction:

  • Beclomethasone (QVAR), intended for adults and children ages 5 and up.
  • Generic budesonide nebulizer suspension, meant for children one year old and above.

These drugs are as safe and effective as the others, but cost less. Your actual cost will depend on how many inhaler puffs you need a day. To cut costs, find out if your health insurance covers any of the inhaled steroids. This can save you a lot of money.

The following list compares prices for some of the top inhaled steroid products on the market for asthma prevention. The drugs selected by Consumer Reports appear in blue.

This is a summary of a longer report you can find at www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org.

Inhaled Steroids for Asthma: Drug Comparison Chart

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs are in blue. We recommend these drugs because they work as well and are as safe as the other drugs, and they cost less.

This is a summary of a longer report you can find at www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org.

GENERIC NAME AND STRENGTH FORM BRAND NAME  AVERAGE COST PER MONTH1 PUFF (AMOUNT PER DAY)2
Beclomethasone 40 mcg Inhaler KVAR $142 4
Beclomethasone 80 mcg Inhaler KVAR $177 4
Budesonide 0.25mg/2 mL Suspension nebulizer Pulmicort Respules $330 2 mL
Budesonide 0.25mg/2 mL Suspension nebulizer Genérico $2322 mL
Budesonide 0.5 mg/2mL Suspension nebulizer Pulmicort Respules $435 2 mL
Budesonide 0.5 mg/2 mL Suspension nebulizer Genérico $267 2 mL
Budesonide 1 mg/2 mL Suspension nebulizer Pulmicort Respules $778 2 mL
Budesonide 90 mcg Aerosol powder Pulmicort Flexhaler $149 2
Budesonide 180 mcg Aerosol powder Pulmicort Flexhaler $200 4
Ciclesonide 80 mcg Inhaler Alvesco $187 2
Ciclesonidae160 mcg Inhaler Alvesco $183 2
Fluticasone 44 mcg InIhaler Flovent HFA $139 4
Fluticasone 110 mcg Inhaler Flovent HFA $191 4
Fluticasone 220 mcg Inhaler Flovent HFA $307 4
Fluticasone 50 mcg Inhaler Flovent Diskus $145 2
Fluticasone 100 mcg Inhaler Flovent Diskus $150 2
Fluticasone 250 mcg Inhaler Flovent Diskus $194 2
Mometasone 110 mcg Inhaler (30 puffs per inhaler) 3 Asmanex Twisthaler $173 1
Mometasone 220 mcg Inhaler (30 puffs per inhaler) 3 Asmanex Twisthaler $191 1
Mometasone 220 mcg Inhaler (60 puffs per inhaler)) 3 Asmanex Twisthaler $203 2
Mometasone 220 mcg Inhaler (120 puffs per inhaler) 3 Asmanex Twisthaler $282 4

1Prices reflect nationwide retail average for August 2013, rounded to the nearest dollar. This information is derived by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs from data provided by Symphony Health Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations.

2As usually prescribed or recommended based on FDA-approved labeling.

3This drug comes in an inhaler programmed to deliver a specified number of puffs.

 

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