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How to Get an Inhaler Without Seeing a Doctor

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Reviewer

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.

Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.

February 10, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

Can You Get an Inhaler Without Going to a Doctor?

Yes, you can get an inhaler without going to the doctor by having a virtual appointment or getting an inhaler that’s available over the counter.

Online doctors are able to write prescriptions for inhalers during virtual appointments. They can electronically send your inhaler prescription to your pharmacy, where you can pick it up.

Learn more about how to get an inhaler without seeing a doctor below.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

What Are Inhalers Used For?

Inhalers are used to treat breathing problems. Medical experts recommend that you see a doctor before using over the counter asthma inhalers or other treatments.

Nonetheless, there are over the counter asthma inhaler and other treatment options.  Some medical conditions that warrant the use of an inhaler include:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiectasis

It is best to speak with a doctor because they can work with you to determine the best medication for you and will check on you to ensure the care plan is working. 

What is Asthma?

According to the CDC, 25 million people in the United States have asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the airways, making it difficult to breathe.

Symptoms of asthma usually include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Difficulty sleeping

Asthma Triggers to Avoid

Inhalers offer short-term relief and long-term control.

If inhalers are not available, you can avoid asthma triggers to reduce the risk of having a flare-up.

Asthma triggers to avoid include:

  • Intense exercise
  • Pollen exposure
  • Strong smells such as perfumes or tobacco smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Pets (fur and dander)
  • Pests (cockroaches, mice)
  • Mold
  • Cleaning and disinfection supplies (liquids)
  • Infections linked to influenza, cold, and respiratory syncytial virus

Even if you get mild asthma symptoms throughout the year, it is still best to get regular checkups with your healthcare provider.

Sometimes other respiratory illnesses can present themselves the same as asthma, so it is important to make sure you have the correct diagnosis. 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, if you have to use an OTC inhaler twice within a week or 2 or more nights a month, then you should contact a doctor.

How Can I Open my Lungs Without an Inhaler?

Feeling short of breath or congested is one of the worst feelings in the world. If you do not have an inhaler and are waiting for medical treatment, you can do a few things to open up your lungs.

Some things you can do at home to open up your lungs without an inhaler include:

  • Sitting up straight
  • Remain calm
  • Inhale warm moist air or steam
  • Drink warm liquids
  • Take a hot, steamy shower
  • Take slow deep breaths
  • Move away from triggers
  • Take vitamins C, D, and E

Home remedies can often alleviate mild symptoms of asthma and other breathing problems. However, if you have chest pain, rapid breathing, or bluish tint to your skin, seek emergency medical care.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Can I Get an Asthma Inhaler Over the Counter?

There is no shortcut method to treating asthma, but if quick relief is needed, there are OTC options available. 

Primatene Mist is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter metered-dose inhaler. Primatene mist is indicated for mild symptoms of intermittent asthma. 

Although over the counter asthma inhalers are available, experts say that they are not the best option for asthma.

However, some people choose this route due to lack of insurance or for quick relief.

PlushCare offers telehealth visits, even if you do not have insurance at an affordable cost, so you can get a prescription inhaler whenever you need it.

Can I get an Inhaler Without Seeing a Doctor?

Yes, you can get an inhaler without seeing a doctor, and you can get an inhaler without a prescription. The top OTC medications for asthma include:

  • Primatene Mist HFA inhaler
  • Asthmanefrin inhaler
  • Bronchial relief tablets (ephedrine and guaifenesin)

Over the counter medications should not be replacements for prescription asthma treatments. They should not be the primary treatment option if you have moderate or severe asthma.

You should talk to a doctor before making your own treatment plan. Asthma attacks can be life-threatening if not treated properly.

Can You Buy an Inhaler From a Pharmacy?

Yes, you can buy an inhaler at any local pharmacy. These include over the counter and prescription inhalers. You can speak with your local pharmacist about treatment options. They can suggest over the counter inhalers or suggest that you see a medical doctor for treatment. 

How to Get an Inhaler Prescription

Getting a prescription inhaler is easy. PlushCare’s PCPs can prescribe inhalers and are available 24/7.

You can schedule an appointment to speak with a board-certified physician about your breathing symptoms. Your PlushCare provider can see what the best treatment option is for you.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Do I Need a Doctor to Get an Inhaler?

You will need to speak with a doctor to get a prescription inhaler, which is the first line of treatment for those with breathing conditions such as asthma.

Asthma is a chronic condition that can get worse over time. Please do not wait for your asthma or breathing problems to get better on their own.

If you need an inhaler, make an appointment with PlushCare today to speak with a doctor. 

You can schedule an appointment to speak with a board-certified physician about your breathing problems and asthma signs and symptoms. If you are already diagnosed with asthma, talk with your provider about treatment options or if you have questions about your medications or prescriptions.

You can book an appointment here or download the free PlushCare mobile app. The average appointment lasts just 15 minutes, and 97% of conditions are successfully treated on the first visit.


Read More About Getting an Inhaler Without Seeing a Doctor


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. (2020). Allergist: Asthma treatment. Retrieved from https://acaai.org/asthma/asthma-treatment

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Asthma: Common asthma triggers. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/triggers.html

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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