I almost only get asthma when I am sick and, occasionally from exercise (and from dogs, but I can mostly avoid those). Very rarely, I get an acute attack for no apparent reason, however.
Doctors seem to think my asthma is more serious than it really is because they tend to see me when I am sick and so my asthma is flaring. (Indeed, me being chesty is usually the first sign that I am getting sick.)
So, they have put me on every chronic treatment from Advair to Singulair, none of which have had any impact on the frequency or severity of my acute attacks. Meanwhile, when I do get an acute attack, I have generally relied on a Rescue Inhaler to alleviate the symptoms (because “not being able to breathe” is more serious an issue than “I have asthma” – the symptom IS the problem !)
Doctors have tried to get me to use Albuterol, but it does not seem to help me at all. On looking at the information about the drug, perhaps that is because it take “3-5 minutes” to have an effect and perhaps because the effect is relatively gentle… MAYBE my breathing is a little better 5 minutes later because of the Albuterol. Or maybe it is just because the attack has become a little less severe of its own accord – I have adapted my breathing so that I can get enough air in to survive.
On the other hand, Primatene Mist worked GREAT for me. I can feel the difference immediately with Primatene – The first puff gets enough medicine in that I can breathe the second puff deep into my lungs where it can do the job properly. And, yes, I do still have part of my stash of 6 PM refills from before they were banned, which shows how rarely I use them. I have never needed to go to the ER due to an attack, which is a good thing since I live 30 minutes away from the nearest one.
I’m frustrated by the ban on Primatene Mist because as far as I can tell, it is still the only real Rescue Inhaler – Albuterol is too slow acting – On the rare occasions when I have a serious attack, I need to be able to resume breathing NOW, not in five minutes.
I also miss Primatene Mist because it was the only OTC rescue inhaler for a very long time. It wasn’t cheap, but it was cheaper than a Co-pay and a deductible and, most importantly, it was easy to get 3 or 4 of them so that I had one at home, one at work and one in my car and so did not actually need to carry it with me all the time. Or, if I was out of town, I could get another one at the nearest pharmacy without needing to arrange an RX. In theory there are other OTC Rescue Inhalers, but the only one I have seen available seems to be a Herbal Remedy – and I do not trust those due to the lack of testing that they require, some are great, but some are snake oil.
I am aware that Primatene Mist was potentially more dangerous to the heart and, on one or two occasions, I have taken too much and had a few minutes of palpitations. But I could breathe throughout them, which is all I cared about at the time.
Does anyone have any recommendations for other Rescue Inhaler options, or information on when an epinephrine inhaler will become available again, whether OTC or RX ?