An inhaler or puffer is a medical device to deliver precise doses of pharmaceuticals directly to the lungs. They are commonly used for persons who suffer from asthma, COPD, severe bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis. In most cases, the drug delivered is a steroid.
There are several different types of inhalers
- Pressurized inhalers, which contain aerosolized drugs under pressure which is released in a metered dose when the inhaler is activated.
- Dry powder inhalers, which release a small dose of pulverized drugs into a chamber, wherein the patient then inhales through the device to drive the drugs into the lungs
- Nebulizers, which contain the drug mixed in a solution of water, which is then inhaled as a mist
For lung diseases, delivering medication directly to the lungs is necessary as the bloodstream does not penetrate directly into the air sacs of the lungs - in other words nothing in the blood apart from gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide is allowed through the membrane separating the two sides of the air sac. Even molecules as small as water generally cannot penetrate the barrier.