Hi! I have a character who takes an inhaler even though they're not asthmatic nor do they have any breathing issues. What are the consequences of the character taking the inhaler just once? How would they feel? How about if they took the inhaler alot, once a day for weeks? And one last thing, if the character has panic attacks where they have trouble breathing, would the inhaler help? Thanks, and I love the blog btw! Keep up the awesome work 💜
Hey! Thanks for the love!
First, I want to clarify “inhaler”, which almost always means albuterol but could mean something else. For the purposes of this ask, I’m assuming albuterol.
Albuterol doesn’t negatively affect healthy adults. It may elevate heart rate a little, but its primary job is to dilate the (chronically constricted) airways in asthmatics. In a healthy adult, it wouldn’t have any effect, because the airways aren’t chronically constricted.
If your character took a lot of it at once – more than a couple puffs – they might get shaky hands, and a nervous disposition, because it stimulates the same receptors that adrenaline does. (It just does so much more specifically in the lungs, with a little crossover into the heart.)
The increased heart rate might actually make his panic attack a
little worse, but I think it’s more than balanced out by the
psychological comfort of using his inhaler: I need this, I took it, I’ll feel better is a very powerful psychological tool. It becomes a placebo.
(I have always wanted to, but never actually, given a patient a 10cc push of Obecalp. Curse you medical ethics!!!)
I’m curious as to how this came to be, but I have a feeling it’s similar to a character in Steven King’s It, where one of the characters isn’t actually asthmatic but uses his inhaler psychologically to feel better.
Good luck with your story!!