Over The Counter Asthma Inhalers

Blog Lung Health

Over The Counter Asthma Inhalers

written by Leah McCabe Written by Leah McCabe
Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Read more posts by this author.

December 9, 2020 Read Time - 4 minutes

Over the Counter Asthma Inhalers

While prescription inhalers are recommended for anyone who suffers from severe asthma, there are times when over the counter asthma inhalers are useful. Some common instances where an over the counter asthma inhaler may be beneficial are for infrequent treatment, or in case of an asthma attack emergency.

Many patients prefer the cost-effective nature of an over the counter asthma inhaler compared to the high price tag of prescription medication. But there are certain factors to keep in mind when using cheaper medication to treat asthma.

We’ll be taking you through what over the counter inhaler brands are available, and the health concerns to keep in mind.

How Over the Counter Asthma Inhaler/Treatment Works

Over the counter asthma inhaler brands use epinephrine or ephedrine to relax the muscles of your airways. This alleviates the symptoms of an asthma attack quickly by allowing air to flow in and out easily. Epinephrine also relaxes the muscles of your airways, but it does not reduce inflammation.

Nebulized epinephrine, found in inhalers, grants the highest bioavailability, opening the airways quickest. You can, however, also buy over the counter capsules, tablets and syrups containing ephedrine which delivers similar results.

Side effects can include an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure, although these are typically mild.

Over the Counter Asthma Medication | Asthmanefrin

Asthmanefrin (racepinephrine) is the only over the counter asthma inhaler which works as a bronchodilator acting upon inflammation. CFC-free, it is reported as a highly effective alternative to epinephrine and ephedrine-based treatments.

There are many potential complications from using Asthmanefrin containing racepinephrine. It cannot be used by anyone who has taken an MAO inhibitor in the last fourteen days. Racepinephrine is also not recommended for any pregnant or breastfeeding mothers without the recommendation of a doctor.

There could also be contraindications for patients with the following symptoms and conditions:

Additionally, you should avoid caffeine when using an over the counter asthma inhaler. As it is, some asthma sufferers are plagued by insomnia and restlessness as a side effect of their inhaler, caffeine will only enhance this.

OTC Health Considerations

Inflammation in the airways caused by asthma can result in permanent scarring which degrades the function of your lungs. If not properly treated, asthma will cause a decrease in lung function that will likely never return to normal.

An over the counter asthma inhaler will not treat the airway inflammation in the same way as prescription asthma inhalers. Over the counter asthma inhalers have little effect on inflammation, and instead address immediate symptoms.

Patients should always test any prospective medication before using it for an attack. If any pain, nausea, vomiting, or elevated blood pressure arises, you need to stop using the inhaler immediately and seek medical attention.

A consultation with a healthcare professional to discuss a prescription asthma inhaler is highly preferred to over the counter asthma inhaler brands for those with severe asthma.

  • 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.


Get Yourself the Right Treatment

The benefits and safety of prescription asthma inhalers cannot be overstated. Resort to an over the counter inhaler in emergencies only. It is extremely important for anyone with asthma to receive the proper treatment in order to lower their risk of long term breathing & heart problems.

PlushCare will have a healthcare professional ready to perform a real-time video diagnosis, and prescribe you the most beneficial asthma inhaler. You can book an appointment here.

After talking with the doctor they will prescribe you the necessary medication. Your prescription can be electronically sent to your closest pharmacy so you can pick up your inhaler whenever you want. PlushCare doctor’s can also discuss and answer questions you may have, as well as let you know if any over the counter asthma inhalers are right for you.

Read More About Asthma Inhalers


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

Get Asthma Help. Asthma Medications. Accessed on January 28, 2021, at https://getasthmahelp.org/medications-list.aspx

Mayo Clinic. Asthma medications: Know your options. Accessed on January 28, 2021, at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/in-depth/asthma-medications/art-20045557

aafa.org. Asthma Medicines. Accessed on January 28, 2021, at https://www.aafa.org/asthma-medicines/

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.

Our commitment to you.

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

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.