According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an estimated 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma. Most asthmatics have a rescue inhaler that they use either as needed or two to three times daily. These inhalers, however, damage the ozone layer. Consequently, new, environmentally friendly inhalers such as Proair HFA and Ventolin HFA were created.
Anyone who has asthma can tell you the uncomfortable and frightening experience of having difficulty breathing. A host of medications have been developed and used to control asthma. The majority of these drugs, however, do not stop an asthma attack once it has begun. Only a rescue inhaler can help alleviate the effects of asthma on the lungs, including constriction and obstruction. Thus, most asthmatics have a rescue inhaler to depend on should breathing become difficult.
Manufactured by Teva Respiratory, Proair HFA is an albuterol sulfate inhaler that meets Food and Drug Administration standards. Initially released as a CFC inhaler, Teva Respiratory was one of only four manufacturers to release its inhaler in HFA format. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the four HFA inhalers available are Ventolin HFA, Proventil HFA, Xopenex HFA (a purer form of albuterol that causes fewer side effects), and Proair HFA. Proair, although covered by insurance, can be expensive.
Ventolin is one of the oldest and most prescribed inhalers in the asthma market. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline prides itself in offering the only rescue inhaler that offers a feature, namely, a counter that lets you know exactly how many inhalations are remaining. This is extremely useful as determining how much medication is left in the canister is difficult. The counter removes all the guesswork so you know when you need to call for a refill.
The major difference between Proair HFA and Ventolin HFA is that Proair uses ethanol as a cosolvent and Ventolin does not. For many asthmatics, ethanol causes constriction of the lungs, thus making its presence in a rescue inhaler counterproductive. In fact, Ventolin HFA is the only inhaler that does not use ethanol, which has made it a favorite for many. Ventolin also has the counter, indicating how much medication is left. These two features have made Ventolin HFA a popular choice for many.
The use of ethanol gives Proair HFA one additional side effect aside from which the two inhalers are identical in possible side effects. According to Drug Information Online, these include but are not limited to: "allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, dizziness, heart palpitations, heartburn, increased blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, rapid pulse or heartbeat, respiratory tract infections, stuffy or runny nose, tremor and more."