In the 1986 movie "Poltergeist II," Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) utters the memorable movie phrase, "They're baa-aack." Spoiler alert: Scary things soon follow.
Similarly, an over-the-counter asthma rescue inhaler — Primatene Mist, which that was pulled from the shelves in 2011 because it used chlorofluorocarbon — is baa-aack.
This newer version approved for people 12 and older uses hydrofluoroalkaline, which is more environmentally friendly.
Now there's nothing wrong with the product (it contains epinephrine; prescription rescue inhalers contain albuterol or levalbuterol).
But people do misuse rescue inhalers. Too many rely on them instead of a long-term asthma control regimen. That leaves them at risk for repeated breathing crises and hospitalization.
As the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology puts it: "Long-term control medications are used in only about half of the asthmatic patients for whom they are recommended. At the same time, quick-relief inhalers are used at a level that would signify very poorly controlled asthma."
If you have asthma, you always want to have a rescue inhaler with you. It can be life-saving. But remember that it's only for temporary relief of mild, intermittent asthma. So don't just pop into a drugstore and buy one.
Check with your asthma doc first to see if this product is right for you, and get an up-to-date, long-term-control regimen set up. That is essential to prevent or delay lung damage.
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