tips and tricks

Resuscitating an "Empty" Inhaler

Joseph Piracci MD

A patient with mild asthma recently brought in her "empty" albuterol inhaler and asked for a refill. I tossed the old inhaler on my desk and wrote a new prescription. Later, before throwing it away, I reflexively shook it and discovered that it still contained some fluid. Suspecting that the nozzle or dispenser was clogged, I soaked both in water overnight. The next morning, a normal spray emerged.

Inhalers that are used infrequently can dry out and become clogged, resulting in wasted medication. A simple overnight soak solves this problem.