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Keeping track of your ventolin inhaler

Hello everyone!

For those who use a ventolin/albuterol inhaler without dose counter- how do you know when it's nearly empty? 

I started to use it last winter (as a child I had a nebulizer, and later- symbicort as both maintenance&reliever), and just wondering when I should replace it.

Thanks

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Comments 21

  • K8sMom2002

    Do you still have the package or the package insert that came with it? It should tell you how many puffs that were in it. If you don't have any information that came with the inhaler, could you call your pharmacist and ask how many puffs were in it? And when you filled it?

    When you don't have a dose counter, you'll have to keep track of the puffs. You can do it on a paper calendar, or on your phone. 

    An inhaler may still sound like it's working even if there's no active medication in it, so it's important to keep track of the doses or puffs you use.

    You can try to recreate or estimate the number of puffs you took — especially if you were on a somewhat regular schedule for a bit. Say for me, I have exercise induced asthma, so my treatment plan would be for me to use two puffs before I did something like a run or other vigorous exercise. If I knew that I ran every weekday, I could estimate 2 puffs per day x 5. 

    Do you have refills that you could get a new inhaler? 

  • Wheezy Me
    Deborah Bartlett posted:

    Can I ask a silly question? Why isn't there a dose counter? And, is the albuterol expired? 

    Where I live, albuterol inhalers just have no counter… No idea why. It hasn't expired.

  • Wheezy Me
    K8sMom2002 posted:

    Do you still have the package or the package insert that came with it? It should tell you how many puffs that were in it. If you don't have any information that came with the inhaler, could you call your pharmacist and ask how many puffs were in it? And when you filled it?

    When you don't have a dose counter, you'll have to keep track of the puffs. You can do it on a paper calendar, or on your phone. 

    An inhaler may still sound like it's working even if there's no active medication in it, so it's important to keep track of the doses or puffs you use.

    You can try to recreate or estimate the number of puffs you took — especially if you were on a somewhat regular schedule for a bit. Say for me, I have exercise induced asthma, so my treatment plan would be for me to use two puffs before I did something like a run or other vigorous exercise. If I knew that I ran every weekday, I could estimate 2 puffs per day x 5. 

    Do you have refills that you could get a new inhaler? 

    It has 200 puffs in it. I have exercise induced asthma as well, and use 2 puffs before exercising outdoors (which is usually once a week- my tennis lesson) plus more as needed (which is inconsistent, depends on season, activity etc). I estimate it should be enough for a year and a half according to that, but I'd rather have a way to know for sure with my next inhaler… because as you said, it will still spray even if the med is over.

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Ok. If there are 200 puffs in each inhaler, I guess after you take 2 puffs, you mark it down in a little notebook and keep count. When you get down to 20 puffs left, call in a refill. But if you haven't refilled it in a while, you could do it now for safety's sake. Just a thought. 

  • LK

    Just found this counter you can put on an inhaler.  Have no idea if there are others like it or if it works well, but may be worth doing a search to see what others are out there.

    Found another one - 

    I had one doctor tell me several years ago that you can tell by the weight of the MDI when you shake it.  To me that's a bit iffy when it's almost empty.

  • K8sMom2002

    Lisa, I agree … once they get so light, it's hard to tell. 

    Thanks for sharing those counters! 

    Wheezy Me, another consideration or two:

    • I tended to underestimate how often I used my rescue inhaler when I first started out.
    • Meds that are exposed to extreme hot or cold may not be as effective for as long as meds that are carefully kept within the manufacturer's temp recommendations.
    • Expiration dates come more quickly than I thought — and most refills are only good for within a calendar year. So you might find that your refills left on your prescription aren't valid anymore. That's always frustrating!
  • Deborah Bartlett

    When I spoke with a representative of a pharmaceutical company about a defective inhaler I had, she told me to never ever ever use what is left on an inhaler after the counter reached zero. Just wanted to mention this while I was thinking of it. 

  • LK

    The pharmacists are good sources of information pertaining to medicines and how to dispense them.  Perhaps you can ask your pharmacist what sort of counter he/she would recommend for the Ventolin?  

  • Pljohns

    Years ago when I could still use inhalers, I had some without dose counters as well.  I went to the sporting goods store and got a pitch count counter-basically it's a very small thing that you just click the number of times you use it.  I kept it with my inhaler-worked great and was cheap

  • Brenda Silvia-Torma

    Lynn, I used to have one of those clickers when I umpired baseball and softball!  You're right, that would be very handy to keep and use. My clicker usually had no more than 4 in each section…since there were 4 balls/3strikes.  Depending up on how many times you use the inhaler, you could fill it up in a week or less.

    I wonder if there is an app for that? 

  • Kathy P

    What about using a stitch counter? I think the one I have only goes up to 99 though.

    I've also seen people make tick marks on the outer plastic holder!

  • Wheezy Me

    Thank you everyone for your creative suggestions for a counter! I'll look for one, or better yet, ask the pharmacist if they have any brand with a built-in counter next time (I just assumed they didn't have, but maybe I'm wrong).

  • K8sMom2002

    What creative solutions about keeping tabs on the count! Lynn, that was a genius idea!

    Wheezy Me, let us know what your pharmacist says … hoping you can get one that does have a dose counter on it.

    And Brenda, there are apps that you can track asthma symptoms and meds on. But of course, you need to be sure that your health data is private and that you know who is using it and what they are using it for. 

  • Dar007

    Great topic! I was thinking this very same thing today. My rescue inhaler does not have a counter in it either. And I haven’t been keeping track of it. The past two weeks I have used it quite a bit. I should ask my pharmacist next time I get a refill. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Yes…keep track of those puffs! If you run out of rescue medication, you may end up having to call for an ambulance. If you use a nebulizer, you can keep the albuterol ampules on hand for breathing emergencies.