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How many medications?

I am an asthma patient but I also do research for work. In my latest survey, some people are claiming to be on 3, 4 or even 5 daily inhaler medications at a time, not including a rescue inhaler (albuterol). Is this normal or could they be exaggerating? I've never had more than 2 medications (a daily inhaler plus Singulair), but my asthma isn't severe. So maybe people do take that many?

  1. That is a great topic to bring up,  - I wonder if they are speaking of the combination inhalers they use to treat their severe asthma to help improve lung function, such as the 3 meds in 1 inhaler called Trelegy. which is a maintenance inhaler. It has an anti-inflammatory medicine called an ICS (inhaled corticosteroid) and a medicine that opens airways, called a LABA (long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist) as well as a LAMA (long-acting muscarinic antagonist). A LAMA blocks the tightening of smooth muscle around your airways to help KEEP them open. In some cases, multiple inhalers are prescribed to make up this combination - maybe the insurance will not pay for Trelegy and the physician writes for 3 inhalers for the treatment they need to make up for Trelegy, such as an ICS, LABA, and a LAMA. Then add in a rescue or two (long-acting and short-acting) and it adds up to 5 inhalers. Just my thoughts. I sure hope the professionals here in the community correct me should I be wrong, but it would be great to get their opinion on this. Rebecca (comm advc)

    1.  Hi Rebecca, and thanks for responding here to with your wise suggestions. I would tend to agree with what you've said. It is entirely possible that folks do speak about their three-in-one medication (such as Trelegy), as if the are taking three medications.
      However, I see that Nighfala, has said the people she is speaking with refer to as many as five separate metered dose inhalers (MDI's).
      I myself have spoken with different patients who talk about their (inhaler) medications in both manners.
      My view is, however the patient speaks about their medication regimen is the ground we should meet them on.
      What do you think?
      I plan to post a separate reply, below to Nighfala, too!
      Leon (site moderator (site moderator

    2.  Hi Nighfala, and thanks for engaging in this conversation and starting this interesting topic.
      You may notice, I responded separately to but, I also have something to contribute to your conversation(s) here.
      In my experience, there are some doctors who do prescribe any number of metered dose inhalers (MDI's) for their patients, as you described in your comment.
      Since, in your situation, you are working with surveys - you may have to accept what has been submitted at face value. Since I have seen this myself in practice, it is really up to you to decide how to assess the results of the survey you are evaluating.
      What do you think?
      Leon (site moderator

  2. I appreciate that feedback. I connected with my pulmonologist for his opinion also. The tricky thing is that the question about which brands you are using is a screening question, so it's possible people are trying to make sure they qualify for the survey by ticking a lot of boxes. It also wildly skews the usage data for the various brands if people aren't truthful about their regimen.

    Since these are all LAMA/LABA/steroid combinations the result of multiple maintenance therapies would be both additive drug-wise and very expensive. So I'm still a bit skeptical.

    1.  Hi again, Nighfala, and thanks for responding. I hear you! For surveys like this, maintaining objectivity can be a challenge. This may be especially so since, as you pointed out the question about brands is a screening question. So, there is the rub!
      Your skepticism is understood, too!
      What's next?
      Leon (site moderator

    2.  I have designed several survey questions around asthma, and it is always a challenge. Another consideration may be participants have asthma and COPD, so they could be on a LABA for one and a LAMA for another. They also may not realize that the question asks what are you taking right now, vs what have you taken in the past? Personally, I have been on "four" meds at the same time. An ICS/LABA combo, a separate ICS to help my lower airways, albuterol for quick-relief, and allergy meds.

      ~ Lorene, team member

  3. I take two inhalers ICS/LABA (Wixela 250/50) & Albuterol I also take meds for my allergic rhinitis (flonase & Loratadine)
    Some people done read the question correctly & just answer so they're actually saying all the meds at one point not currently

    1.  Thank you for joining the conversations. That is a good point that you make, that some of us misinterpreted the question. Over time, I would think it would be very likely that one asthmatic uses 3, 4, or 5 inhalers -- as I know that is the case with me. Although, like you, I think most of us only need one or two at one point in time. That definitely makes sense. And thank you for sharing what medicines you use. We appreciate it. Wishing you all the best. John. community moderator.

    2.  I agree 👍 💯 & finding the right meds can be a battle for some asthmatics

  4.  I have more then 2 . I take Breo, besides rescue inhaler and singular.

    1.  Thank you for joining the conversation and sharing how many medicines you take to manage your asthma. Does this combination of medicines work well for you? John. community moderator.

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