Daily inhalers make no difference for asthmatics

Asthmatics are asked to cough up 100 bucks a month or more for their daily inhalers -- and even when those meds are covered by insurance, the co-pay alone can cost you the better part of a lung.

And if that's not painful enough, get ready to really start huffing and puffing -- because you're shelling out all that cash for nothing: New research confirms that daily puff of air doesn't do anything except lighten your wallet and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

But if you're an asthmatic yourself, you've probably suspected this all along. You've skipped days... and you've felt no worse, right?

Well, it's not just you. The nine-month study of 350 asthmatics told to puff each day or skip it completely found absolutely no differences in outcomes by any measure.

They had the same number of asthma attacks, same lung function and airway reactivity, and even the same number of missed workdays, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

None of this should be surprising, of course, because I've told you before that those inhalers may as well be full of plain old air. And in one recent study, placebos filled with just that -- plain old air -- did just as well as inhalers filled with meds.

You're better off with the air. It's cheaper, sure, but it's safer too -- because the drugs in “real" inhalers are powerful corticosteroids. And while they generally don't cause many immediate side effects besides that icky taste, they can be a disaster in the long run.

Daily use of these drugs -- even if you skip a day here and there -- can cause thinning bone, cataracts, hormonal problems, and more.

Skip 'em completely if you can. And work with a skilled naturopathic physician who can find and correct the cause of your asthma, and then you might be able to limit or even toss your rescue inhaler as well.