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Inhalations are drugs or solutions or suspensions of one or more drug substances administered by the nasal or oral respiratory route for local or systemic effect.
Solutions of drug substances in sterile water for inhalation or in sodium chloride inhalation solution may be nebulized by use of inert gases. Nebulizers are suitable for the administration of inhalation solutions only if they give droplets sufficiently fine and uniform in size so that the mist reaches the bronchioles. Nebulized solutions may be breathed directly from the nebulizer or the nebulizer may be attached to a plastic face mask, tent, or intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB) machine.
Another group of products, also known as metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) are propellant-driven drug suspensions or solutions in liquified gas propellant with or without a cosolvent and are intended for delivering metered doses of the drug to the respiratory tract. An MDI contains multiple doses, often exceeding several hundred. The most common single-dose volumes delivered are from 25 to 100 µL (also expressed as mg) per actuation.
Examples of MDIs containing drug solutions and suspensions in this pharmacopeia are Epinephrine Inhalation Aerosol and Isoproterenol Hydrochloride and Phenylephrine Bitartrate Inhalation Aerosol, respectively.
Powders may also be administered by mechanical devices that require manually produced pressure or a deep inhalation by the patient (e.g., Cromolyn Sodium for Inhalation).
A special class of inhalations termed inhalants consists of drugs or combination of drugs, that by virtue of their high vapor pressure, can be carried by an air current into the nasal passage where they exert their effect. The container from which the inhalant generally is administered is known as an inhaler.