How to Get an Inhaler Without Seeing a Doctor - K Health (2023)

If you suffer from breathing problems or asthma, you may need an inhaler. An inhaler is a device that helps people get the necessary medicine into their lungs quickly and easily.

The medicine works as a mist or spray that is released by a pump. There are two kinds of inhalers: Many asthma patients rely on a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) as a part of their asthma treatment plan. These inhalers have a chemical propellant that pushes a specific dose of medicine from a pressurized canister, and delivers it directly into your lungs.

Dry powder inhalers (DPI) provide medicine without propellants, but patients must be able to coordinate their breathing enough to use their inhaler correctly. You can get an inhaler by setting up an online appointment with your doctor or visiting your local pharmacy for over-the-counter options.

In this article, I’ll explore how to get an inhaler without a doctor’s visit, how inhalers work, and when you should see a doctor about asthma or your inhaler.

Getting an Inhaler Without a Doctor’s Visit

Asthma is a condition that affects about 1 in 13 Americans, and impacts both adults and children.

When someone has asthma, their lungs are hyperresponsive to triggers that cause their airways to become inflamed, cause their chest muscles to constrict, and may cause an excessive production of mucus, or phlegm. When this happens, it can be difficult to breathe.

Asthma is a common reason for needing an inhaler. When an asthma sufferer experiences symptoms, or a more severe increase of symptoms called an asthma attack, an inhaler can provide quick relief of symptoms. Other inhalers are used for long-term control of asthma symptoms.

While you do not need a doctor’s visit to get an inhaler, it is recommended for severe cases that you speak with a medical expert who can help you get the medication you need. You can do this by setting up an online appointment with your doctor.

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(Video) Inhaler Users' Biggest Mistakes


Set up a virtual appointment with a doctor. They can write you a prescription for an albuterol inhaler during your appointment, and discuss ways you can control your symptoms to alleviate frequent asthma attacks.

Albuterol inhalers are highly-effective, prescription treatments for asthma patients. Your online doctor can electronically send your prescription to your local pharmacy for you to pick up. Be sure to use only as directed. You can refill your asthma prescription online today with K Health.


Some inhalers, including Primatene Mist, are available over-the-counter without a prescription at most pharmacies. We recommend discussing this with your doctor before trying one. In most cases, patients with asthmawill need a prescription inhaler as directed by a doctor, not one that can be purchased over-the-counter.

If you suspect your child is suffering from asthma, it is advised you speak with a doctor who can set up an asthma pediatric care plan. They will provide prevention tips, and design a plan that works best for your child.

Can I Get an Inhaler at a Pharmacy?

Yes, you can get an inhaler at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.Ask the pharmacist to help you find the right one for you.

Are Asthma Inhalers Available OTC?

Yes, you can buy asthma inhalers like Primatene Mist and Asthmanefrin OTC. Many OTC treatments are not FDA-approved. The Primatene Mist is the only FDA-approved OTC asthma inhaler.

How an Asthma Inhaler Works

Inhalers offer short-term relief for the treatment of breathing problems.They provide a spray or mist through a pump that is emitted into the mouth to help open narrowed airways for easier breathing.

Inhalers work to treat the following medical conditions:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiectasis

There are two main types of inhalers to treat breathing problems.

  • Metered-dose inhalers: These inhalers feature a pressurized canister containing medication that fits into a boot-shaped plastic mouthpiece. The medication is released by pushing down on the canister so it is expelled out of the boot. Metered-dose inhalers may release medication automatically when you inhale, or they may have a built-in dose counter—or app you can download on your phone—that can help you track how many doses remain. If your dose doesn’t have a counter, we recommend purchasing a separate electronic dose encounter so you can know when the medication is low.
  • Dry powder inhalers: Rather than pushing the medication into your lungs by pressing down on the canister, this inhaler works by breathing in fast, deep breaths and sucking the medication into your lungs. Dry powder inhalers hold up to 200 doses, which are measured into single-dose devices. You fill the inhaler before each treatment to control the medication amount.

When using your metered-dose inhaler without a spacer, it is important to follow these instructions for best results:

  1. Take the cap off. Look inside the mouthpiece and make sure it is clean.
  2. Shake the inhaler hard 10 to 15 times before every use.
  3. Breathe out, trying to exhale as much as you can.
  4. Place your lips around the mouthpiece so that you form a tight seal, and your hand over the canister.
  5. As you start to slowly breathe in through your mouth, press down on the inhaler once.
  6. Continue breathing in slowly.
  7. Hold your breath and slowly count to 10 to let the medicine reach deep into your lungs.
  8. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
  9. If you are using inhaled, quick-relief medicine, wait approximately one minute between puffs. You do not need to wait a minute between puffs for other medicines.
  10. Replace the cap. Make sure it is firmly closed.
  11. Rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine.

Be sure to keep your inhaler clean.

Store it in a cool, dry place, and replace it before it is empty.

Get an inhaler online.

Use K Health and get an inhaler without leaving your house. Manage asthma, prescription medications, and more.

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(Video) Inhaler Fail | House M.D.

When to See a Doctor

It is time to see a doctor when at-home remedies or over-the-counter options are not working effectively to treat your breathing problems.

Consider the following at-home remedies that can help you:

  • Sit up straight
  • Remain calm
  • Perform breathing exercises—take slow, deep breaths
  • Move away from asthma triggers such as pet dander, pollen, and dust mites
  • Inhale warm, moist air (or steam) into the lungs
  • Drink warm liquids
  • Take a hot, steamy shower
  • Take vitamins C, D, and E

While home remedies can relieve mild symptoms of asthma and other breathing problems, seek urgent medical care if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe breathlessness or wheezing (particularly in the early morning or at night)
  • Rapid, shallow breathing, and the inability to speak more than short phrases
  • Chest pain
  • A bluish tint to your skin

How to Get an Inhaler Online

Now you can manage asthma onlineusing K Health.

Get care in three easy steps:

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Chat with a clinician.
  3. Manage your condition with medication refills, lab tests, and more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an inhaler without a prescription?

Yes. There are over-the-counter inhalers, such as Primatene Mist, which treat mild cases of asthma. It is recommended that you speak with a doctor before purchasing an inhaler for the first time, as they can help find the right medication for you.

(Video) How to properly use an INHALER! #shorts

How much does an inhaler cost?

Prices will vary between prescription and OTC options. Albuterol inhalers average $15 for 90 ml. This will depend on what pharmacy you visit. If you are purchasing Primatene Mist, you can expect to pay around $35 for 11.7 g. However, this will vary between pharmacies.

How do doctors determine if you need an inhaler?

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Your doctor will do a physical exam to determine if you have asthma. This will involve checking your eyes, ears, throat, nose, chest, lungs, and skin. They will examine your breathing to see how you exhale breath from your lungs. In some instances, they may do a lung function test which involves watching your breathing before and after you inhale a medication known as a bronchodilator. It is common for doctors to prescribe an inhaler as a trial medicine to see if it improves your breathing.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.


Can I just buy an asthma inhaler over the counter? ›

Asthma medications are prescription only, which means that you must consult with a doctor.

How can I get an inhaler ASAP? ›

You can get an inhaler by setting up an online appointment with your doctor or visiting your local pharmacy for over-the-counter options. In this article, I'll explore how to get an inhaler without a doctor's visit, how inhalers work, and when you should see a doctor about asthma or your inhaler.

Can you get an inhaler without a diagnosis? ›

Yes, you can get an inhaler without seeing a doctor, and you can get an inhaler without a prescription. The top OTC medications for asthma include: Primatene Mist HFA inhaler. Asthmanefrin inhaler.

Can I get an asthma inhaler at the pharmacy? ›

If you need a new blue inhaler urgently, and don't have time to see your GP, your pharmacist may be able to provide you with an emergency preventer inhaler.

What helps an asthma flare up without an inhaler? ›

Tips for When You Don't Have an Inhaler
  1. Sit upright. This opens your airway. ...
  2. Slow down your breathing by taking long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose. ...
  3. Stay calm. ...
  4. Get away from the trigger. ...
  5. Drink a warm, caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or tea. ...
  6. Get medical help.

Can you get a temporary inhaler? ›

OTC inhalers can be a temporary option for relieving mild asthma symptoms, like wheezing. Primatene Mist and Asthmanefrin are two similar inhalers you can buy without a prescription. The Vicks Sinus Inhaler provides a medication-free option for people looking to ease symptoms of a cold or the flu.

Is there an emergency inhaler? ›

There are two rescue inhaler medications that are commonly used in the U.S.: albuterol and levalbuterol.

How can I get free inhalers? ›

Prescription assistance programs (PAPs) are designed to provide inhalers and other asthma drugs free of charge or at a highly discounted price to lower-income individuals and families. Copay assistance programs (CAPs) cover a portion of drug copay costs for people with health insurance.

What is an emergency inhaler? ›

What is a rescue inhaler? A rescue inhaler dispenses medication called a bronchodilator, which expands or dilates the airways, making it easier to breathe. It is used to relieve or stop the symptoms of an asthma attack. Rescue inhalers also help clear mucus from the lungs.

What happens when a non asthmatic person use inhaler? ›

The bronchodilator inhaler, or “reliever medication”, is used to relieve spasms in the airway muscles. If you don't have spasms, it will have no effect on the airways but potential side effects include a racing heart beat and feeling very shaky.

How much are inhalers at Walmart pharmacy? ›

Additionally, it helps patients track how many puffs remain in their inhaler so they do not run out of their rescue medication when they need it most.
Albuterol 2mg tab$4 for 90 tablets$10 for 270 tablets
Albuterol 4mg tab$4 for 60 tablets$10 for 180 tablets
Albuterol 2mg/5ml syrup$4 for 120ml$10 for 360ml
29 Dec 2008

Can 111 prescribe inhaler? ›

111 Online can now automatically book you an appointment with a nearby open Pharmacy for a consultation about providing your emergency prescription. Using 111 Online, there is also no waiting on the phone to speak to 111, and no waiting for a call-back. Using 111 Online, your emergency prescription will also be free.

Is there a natural inhaler for asthma? ›

There are no home remedies for an asthma attack. Asthma is managed with medications, by avoiding triggers, and by creating an asthma action plan with your doctor. Keep a rescue inhaler on hand for immediate relief during an attack.

What can I use as alternative for inhaler? ›

Are there complementary and alternative medicines to treat asthma?
  • Herbs and vitamins. It is believed that some Chinese herbs, like ding-chan tang (DCT), can decrease inflammation and relieve bronchospasm. ...
  • Yoga. ...
  • Acupuncture. ...
  • Biofeedback.

How many puffs of asthma is an emergency? ›

If you think you're having an asthma attack, you should: Sit up straight – try to keep calm. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds up to 10 puffs. If you feel worse at any point, or you do not feel better after 10 puffs, call 999 for an ambulance.

Is there an over the counter inhaler for shortness of breath? ›

Asthmanefrin. The active ingredient in this OTC asthma inhaler is racepinephrine. The inhaler is available without a prescription to relieve mild symptoms of occasional asthma, such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and wheezing.

Does steam help asthma? ›

If you suffer from severe asthma symptoms, you can use steam therapy. It can be effective in easing your nasal congestion and loosen up your airways. Indeed, steam rooms may do much more than make you feel revived and refreshed. However, you should always exercise caution when using steam therapy.

How much does an inhaler cost? ›

Cost of Different Asthma Inhalers Without Insurance
Type of Inhaler (medication)Cost Without Insurance of 1 Inhaler
Qvar (beclometasone)$244.51
Serevent (salmeterol)$522.43
Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol)$358.75
Ventolin (salbutamol)$74.32
5 more rows
23 Aug 2022

Can you get a prescription inhaler online? ›

Through Push Health, you can request an asthma medication prescription online and get the asthma inhaler or pills that you need delivered to you or at a local pharmacy.

Can I get an inhaler over the counter at Walgreens? ›

Primatene Mist is a short-acting rescue inhaler that is available without a prescription. Primatene Mist is intended to provide temporary relief for symptoms of mild, intermittent asthma.

Do inhalers help oxygen levels? ›

Given the results obtained from this study, it seems that using spacer with inhaler has a significantly positive effect on pulmonary function improvement and increasing blood oxygen saturation.

Can albuterol damage your lungs? ›

This medicine may cause paradoxical bronchospasm, which means your breathing or wheezing will get worse. This may be life-threatening. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have coughing, difficulty breathing, or wheezing after using this medicine.

Will drinking albuterol help asthma? ›

You take this drug by swallowing it or inhaling it. Albuterol is used to relieve bronchospasm (tightening and swelling of the muscles around the airways) in children and adults with asthma. It's also used to prevent exercise-induced asthma.

Can I use an inhaler for anxiety? ›

While it may not be a primary method for dealing with anxiety, using a rescue inhaler is an option for dealing with an anxiety attack. Talk with your doctor before doing so.

Can untreated asthma damage lungs? ›

Airway and lung damage, also known as airway remodeling, is a long-term process where chronic and uncontrolled inflammation from uncontrolled asthma causes irreversible scarring of the lungs and airways.

Can you get emergency inhalers pharmacy? ›

The pharmacist may provide an emergency supply of up to 30 days' treatment for most prescription medicines, with these exceptions: insulin, an ointment, a cream or an asthma inhaler – only the smallest pack size will be supplied.

How to get cheap inhalers? ›

7 ways to save on your child's asthma inhalers
  1. 7 ways to save on your child's asthma inhalers. ...
  2. Check your insurance plan. ...
  3. Ask for more. ...
  4. Compare pharmacy prices. ...
  5. Search for coupons. ...
  6. Consider Medicaid or CHIP. ...
  7. Look for a patient-assistance program. ...
  8. Appeal your insurance coverage.

What is the cheapest preventative inhaler? ›

Alvesco, a corticosteroid inhalant, is the cheapest asthma inhaler on the list at $37 per 1, 6.1 gm of 80 mcg/actuation. It's an anti-inflammatory medication that helps prevent asthma attacks when taken regularly as part of a maintenance plan.

Can A&E give you an inhaler? ›

Emergency Asthma treatment in A&E

If you're suffering from severe asthma, you're likely to be given an oxygen mask, nebuliser and steroids to try to calm the attack. Bronchodilator drugs will be given through a nebuliser to help open up your airways.

Can pharmacists prescribe puffers? ›

Emergency oral contraception can prevent a pregnancy up to five days after unprotected intercourse. Your pharmacist can prescribe emergency oral contraception if you are 14 years of age or older.

Can I buy a blue inhaler over the counter? ›

No, you cannot buy Salbutamol over the counter. Salbutamol is a prescription-only medication, which means you need a prescription before you can get it.

How do you calm an asthma flare up? ›

Take Deep Breaths

Special breathing exercises can help your lungs work better. Pursed lip breathing is one option: Breathe in through your nose, then breathe out at least twice as slowly through pursed lips. Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, is another useful technique.

How do you calm an asthma exacerbation? ›

Emergency treatment
  1. Short-acting beta agonists, such as albuterol. These are the same medications as those in your quick-acting (rescue) inhaler. ...
  2. Oral corticosteroids. ...
  3. Ipratropium (Atrovent HFA). ...
  4. Intubation, mechanical ventilation and oxygen.
1 Oct 2021

What are three 3 common triggers for an asthma flare up? ›

Physical exercise; some medicines; bad weather, such as thunderstorms or high humidity; breathing in cold, dry air; and some foods, food additives, and fragrances can also trigger an asthma attack. Strong emotions can lead to very fast breathing, called hyperventilation, that can also cause an asthma attack.

Does Vicks Vapor Rub help asthma? ›

Vicks Vaporub is a topical medicine designed to relieve cough in cases of the flu and colds. It is considered safe for kids age 2 years and older, provided you follow the package directions carefully. However, Vicks will not relieve an asthma cough in a child with asthma.


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