Wheeze, wheeze, cough, gasp.
An asthma attack can be terrifying. For the nearly 24 million Americans who have asthma or chronic bronchitis, an inhaler plays a critical role.
A portable, handheld device, an inhaler can dispense fast-acting rescue medication, such as albuterol, which relaxes airway muscles to end the attack. Or it can be used to administer regular maintenance medicine.
The most common type is called a metered dose inhaler, which resembles a mini-aerosol can. The user simply squeezes the inhaler while taking a deep breath, sending the drug to the lungs.