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What's the Difference Between Blue and Brown Inhalers?

Reviewed by
Date published
12/01/2022
Date last updated
21/12/2021
Length of read
3 Minutes

Asthma is one of the most common diseases in the United Kingdom, affecting around 11% of the population. Wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of asthma.

Inhalers are used to administer medicines directly into the lungs, allowing for faster symptom management. They are helpful in managing asthma symptoms and preventing asthma attacks, allowing asthmatics to live full lives. Some inhalers can also be used during an attack to provide acute aid.

If you have asthma, it's very likely that you'll have come across the blue "reliever" inhaler and a brown "preventer." This guide establishes the main differences between both.

Blue Inhaler (Reliever)

The drug salbutamol is found in the blue inhaler. Salbutamol works quickly to improve breathing by relaxing the muscles in the airways. It improves breathing rapidly and provides rapid relief of asthmatic problems. A single puff of your blue inhaler should be enough to achieve this result.

On an ‘as required' basis, this inhaler should be used only when necessary. You should use it whenever your asthma becomes worse. This might be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Pollen
  • Weather changes.

Keep your blue inhaler with you or on hand in case you need it. If your child is asthmatic, keeping a second blue inhaler at school may be useful.

If you believe that you are using your blue inhaler more than twice per week, it's possible that your asthma isn't as well controlled as it should be. If this is the case, see your GP or nurse for an asthma evaluation.

Brown Inhaler (Preventer)

A brown inhaler contains a type of low-dose steroid. This is given once or twice a day to alleviate airway inflammation and manage symptoms by reducing mucus production.

Brown inhalers are used to treat asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. As a result, they are essential in the management of asthma. While it should be used on a daily basis even if you feel fine, it might take a few weeks to see any effect.

Because steroid inhalers do not provide immediate symptom relief, they should not be used during an asthma attack - this is why your blue inhaler exists.

A combination inhaler is a type of aerosol steroid spray device that combines a long-acting bronchodilator with steroids to provide optimum relief for those who suffer from chronic and severe asthma. The goal of this method is to cut back on the number of inhalers you'll require. They should also be used on a regular basis, and they might be available in another hue!

Is your asthma under control?

Depending on how your asthma develops, your doctor may increase or decrease your steroid use. If you don't have good control over your asthma, they could boost your steroid dosage or convert you to a combination inhaler. Likewise, if your asthma is getting better, they may reduce the number of steroids you take.

If you suspect that your asthma is getting worse, go to your doctor.