Asthma: HFA Inhalers

If you have a new HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) inhaler, you may wonder how it compares with your old inhaler. Here's what you need to know: It's better for the environment and just as good for your asthma.

Out with the old

Old-style inhalers use chemicals called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) to push the medicine out of the container. When released, they reduce the amount of ozone in the atmosphere's ozone layer. This layer absorbs some of the sun's rays, protecting the earth from too much radiation. Loss of ozone can increase the risk for skin cancer, cataracts, and other health problems.

In with the new

As of  December 31, 2008, HFA asthma inhalers have replaced CFC inhalers.

The medicine in the HFA inhalers is the same as the medicine in old CFC inhalers. It is still safe and effective. But HFA doesn't damage the ozone layer the way CFCs do.

The new inhalers may cost more than the old inhalers. Check with your health plan to see if you qualify for help in paying the extra cost.

When you first switch to an HFA inhaler, you may notice a slight difference in its smell and taste. The inhaler may also need to be cared for differently. Ask your health care provider what you'll need to do. The adjustments you'll need to make are small compared with the benefit of protecting the Earth.


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