What is an inhaler?
Inhalers are used to deliver drugs to the body via the lungs for the treatment or prevention of diseases of the airways such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis. This route is however not reserved solely for this purpose. With a large surface area and good blood supply, the lungs can also be used for delivering drugs throughout the body e.g. antivirals for the treatment of influenza. More recently, manufacturers have designed inhalers with some success to administer insulin via this route.
By giving the drug directly to where it is needed means it is likely to work quicker. Also smaller doses are needed when delivered directly to where it is needed, rather than using tablets or injections, therefore reducing the risk of side effects.
The inhaled route is of limited value to patients who cannot swallow tablets or capsules, as most medicines are not available via this route.