Broadly speaking, there are two types of asthma inhalers: relievers and preventers. Relievers are used to treat asthma symptoms as and when they present. Preventers are used to keep asthma symptoms at bay and therefore prevent asthma attacks from occurring. They can also be called maintenance inhalers.
Reliever inhalers are usually blue and contain fast-acting active ingredients. Preventer inhalers are usually brown or purple and contain one or two ingredients that stop symptoms, or at least severe symptoms, from presenting.
It’s important to understand that the colours of the inhalers are not meant to act as an accurate guide. Some products differ from these colour codes, so be sure to read the product’s packaging or speak with your prescribing clinician.
Most people living with asthma will be prescribed a reliever inhaler to begin with, but if you need to use it frequently, a preventative treatment will likely be recommended. Some people use a combination inhaler that works to prevent symptoms, as well as treat them quickly when they do occur.