ZocdocAnswersShould I have been prescribed a rescue inhaler?

Question

Should I have been prescribed a rescue inhaler?

I was diagnosed with asthma today. (My biggest trigger being cold air.) The doctor gave me a trial of Flovent, a preventative medicine, to be taken twice in the morning and twice in the evening. He did not prescribe me a rescue inhaler. This makes me leery, as one of the possible side effects of Flovent are bronchi spasms. Flovent's website suggest having a rescue inhaler on hand in case this happens. I'm nervous to use the Flovent now. Should I have been prescribed a rescue inhaler? Especially with my biggest trigger being the cold winter air, what am I supposed to do if I am outside and unable to breathe?

Answer

I recommend that you schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist. Generally speaking, I have to say that I do agree with you that you should have been given an albuterol rescue inhaler prior to being prescribed a steroid inhaler for your asthma. If your asthma is just triggered by cold weather, then it is not likely that you would need a preventative medication such as Flovent unless you are having attacks multiple times per week including attacks during the night. If you are only having attacks when you are exposed cold weather, then you might only need a rescue inhaler such as albuterol. Only if you see yourself using the albuterol inhaler frequently, as in multiple times per week, should your doctor consider adding any kind of inhaled steroid. For these reasons, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist who can further assess your asthma. I would say that you probably need to have pulmonary function testing to make sure that you qualify for any kind of asthma treatment. This can help quantify how bad your asthma is and whether or not it is responsive to a bronchodilator such as albuterol. If you find yourself using the albuterol inhaler frequently, then your doctor might consider adding a steroid inhaler such as Flovent, Advair, or Symbicort. Good luck.

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