A Substitute for Primatene Mist Inhaler: Treatment for Asthma

This Peak Flow Meter may give you better results when you treat your asthma with magnesium.
This Peak Flow Meter may give you better results when you treat your asthma with magnesium. | Source

Ever since Primatene Mist was taken off the market last year, many people have been scrambling to find some help for their asthma problems. The ones that do not have insurance are especially hurting to find a solution that they can afford. Whether they had insurance or not, the ones that went to a doctor and got a prescription were reporting that the prescription medicine did not work as well for them.

I decided to talk to some doctors about prescription asthma inhalers, mostly to find out which one was the closest to Primatene Mist. I found out that asthma inhalers, whether prescription or not should not be the primary treatment for asthma.

I am speaking with several professionals in the medical industry and will be reporting my findings in a series of articles. In this article, I will discuss what I learned during my telephone interview with Dr. Mary Ann Block of The Block Center.

Asthma sufferers have trouble breathing because of the narrowing of the airways in their lungs, an example of which is shown in the upper left. In chronic asthma (lower left), repeated cycles of inflammation, damage, and repair lead to airway remodel
Asthma sufferers have trouble breathing because of the narrowing of the airways in their lungs, an example of which is shown in the upper left. In chronic asthma (lower left), repeated cycles of inflammation, damage, and repair lead to airway remodel | Source

Asthma Inhalers are band-aids

According to Dr. Block, asthma inhalers are band-aids, since they cover the symptoms without fixing the problem. The solution is to find the trigger of the asthma and fix the underlying problem.

The most common trigger of asthma is allergies. By treating the allergies, you can reduce your asthma symptoms, and therefore reduce your dependence on asthma inhalers. There are other triggers as well, such as viruses, cold weather and exercise, but most of these are still allergy related. The allergies constrict the air passages, and the other causes trigger the attack.

Test for Allergies

Instead of using the pinprick test which tests for multiple allergies at a time, Dr. Block tests for them one at a time using a peak flow meter. In this way, she can determine specifically which of the allergens cause asthma problems. She can check for four to six allergens in one visit but generally checks for about twenty allergens in total.

Once she determines what allergies the patient has, she can give him a weaker and weaker dose to find the treatment dose. This is called provocation neutralization. This form of therapy is used extensively by Otolarygologists (ear, nose and throat doctors) and family physicians, but is not used by allergists who use desensitization instead.

Magnesium for Asthma

Dr. Block uses a magnesium injection to treat asthma. She said, "One injection will stop wheezing instantly. The magnesium relaxes the bronchioles and prevents ongoing spasms. Once the magnesium is loaded with an injection, the individual with asthma may be able to just take oral magnesium to keep the asthma away."

Once the magnesium shot is given, it can last for days, weeks, months or forever, depending on the person. Some patients never need another injection again, while others may need another injection every few months.

Additional Facts about Magnesium

Magnesium is needed in 350 biochemical processes and affects many bodily functions.

Side effects of magnesium shot is tenderness at the injection site. Side effects of magnesium can be diarrhea. She recommends buying a quality brand of magnesium, since cheaper brands may cause diarrhea sooner. Some also contain calcium which can invoke broncho-spasms.

Magnesium is water soluble so it is difficult to overdose on it. It is given to pregnant women by IV for toxemia. You can overdose on it only if you take it by IV and have kidney problems.

There is a blood test to check for magnesium deficiency, but Dr. Block stated that it is not very accurate. The gold standard of testing is the magnesium challenge test which is a urine test, which measures the amount of magnesium that has been retained by the body after a magnesium injection.

Prescription Inhalers for Asthma

Dr. Block does prescribe Albuterol as a rescue inhaler for asthma. She has found though, that by treating the underlying cause of asthma, her patients find that they do not need to use the rescue inhaler very often. She recommends that Advair does not be used as a first line medicine, because it is not recommended for that purpose by the FDA.

Meet Dr. Mary Ann Block

About Dr. Block

Dr. Mary Ann Block, DO, PA is the Medical Director of The Block Center in Hurst, Texas. She focuses on a natural and holistic approach to family health. She prefers to find and treating underlying causes of medical issues instead of simply treating symptoms.

She has written several books, including Just Because You`re Depressed Doesn`t Mean You Have Depression, Depression Is a Symptom Not a Disease, So Find the Cause -- Fix the Problem.

She is an international speaker about health issues. She has appeared on The Montel Williams Show, 48 Hours, and other television programs. She has testified at legislative hearings on the dangers of the psychiatric drugging of children.

American Asthma Statistics graphic
American Asthma Statistics graphic | Source

Treating Asthma

Treating the underlying cause is very important to me. I have found that keeping my allergies under control makes me much less dependent on asthma inhalers. I rarely use an inhaler, even though I do keep one around in case of emergency.

Since I am not a patient of Dr. Mary Ann Block, have not been tested for allergies using the peak flow meter, and have not used magnesium supplements, I cannot comment on whether these tests and treatments will work for you. It does make sense to me to test specifically which allergies are the asthma triggers, so you can take particular care to avoid them. Since the magnesium supplements are safe and can help many other bodily functions, it seems like they would be worth trying.

Asthma can be very expensive, particularly if you don't have insurance. Since Primatene Mist is no longer available over the counter, it is even more important to find and treat the underlying cause of asthma. By keeping the allergies under control, you may find that you do not need to rely on an asthma inhaler. You may also find that you will save money and the aggravation of an asthma attack.

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Comments: "An Alternative to Primatene Mist: Treatment for Asthma" 17 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 21 months ago from USA Author

You've raised some great questions Iglegl5719. Unfortunately I don't have any answers. I received an ad today in the mail for gas line insurance, for in case there is a problem with the gas line that runs from my house out to the street, although they don't call it insurance. It led me to thinking about all the different kinds of insurance I am paying for and the ones I avoid. I am afraid to do the math, but I think that half of my paycheck goes to taxes, and the other half goes to health insurance, property insurance, and the car insurance. It feels like there is no money left that I get to keep for myself.


lglegl5719 21 months ago

I see that this article was written almost two years ago and all of the comments were written that long ago also. Since that time, we now have the "affordable" health care act, I have no insurance due to loss of job, and my husband's group insurance at his low paying job is getting ready to go up at which time we will not be able to keep it any longer. Since Primatene Mist has been taken off the market, he now has to have a prescription inhaler. He has suffered with asthma his entire life and has used Primatene Mist his entire life with no problem. I am at a loss to understand why the FDA is delaying the approval of a CFC-free version of Primatene Mist. Could it be that the pharmaceutical companies are cleaning up with over-priced inhalers and the FDA has been paid off to deliberately delay approval? My husband's inhaler would be about $200 without insurance. We barely make it now and when his premium increases, there goes his insurance and we don't qualify for "affordable" health care through the government. This reasoning behind the removal of Primatene Mist from the market is very suspect - CFC's? Are there no other products on the market that still have CFC's in them? I suspect greedy pharmaceutical companies are at the bottom of this. We could afford $19 every month and a half for a Primatene Mist inhaler, but prescription inhalers will be out of reach for us once we are forced to give up his insurance.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Danny,

I look forward to hearing how the magnesium works for you.

I recommend that you read my hub about how to manage your asthma:

http://hubpages.com/health/How-to-Manage-Your-Asth...

If you can't clean the carpet yourself, maybe you can ask someone or hire a cleaning service to clean it for you.


Danny_G 4 years ago

I was told I had COPD a year ago. I had been having breathing problems for a few years and they got very bad but I didn't go to the doctor. I don't drive due to vision loss so I just stayed home and went out when I was having a good day. I tried to hide my breathing issues from everyone for the first couple of years. I haven't been regularly to the pulmonoligist, in fact only once. I was able to get my clinic nurse practitioner to prescribe the inhalers that the pulmonologist prescribed. ProAir and Symbacort. I found almost right away that they seemed to cause issues with my breathing and heartbeating faster. In fact, when my lungs constricted, it seemed to happen even faster when I used the inhalers as opposed to when I'd try to stay off them. The symbacort I only take half of the dose, one shot of the 80 one. I'd like to not take it either as I feel it's use then requires it's use again and over and over. The ProAir works initially too but then when the clamps come down on my lungs, it happens sooner and sooner and then I find I need it more and more. I actaully think I have asthma. My apartment is extremely dusty due to old carpeting and the dust is everywhere. Being that I am generally homebound most of the time means I'm always sucking the dust in. I've found if I take benadryl at night it helps the next morning. Mornings are always the worst time. Lot's of mucous for about an hour or two then things get better. I use guaifenesin for the days when it's really rough with mucous. I tried to tell the nurse practitioner that the inhalers weren't really working and I thought they were creating an issue. She said I needed to keep taking them as it takes 6 months to stabilize one's breathing. I didn't listen, I just cut back the dose, I know my body. I am going to try the magnesium solution to see if it works. I take vitamins and it seems when I do I am somewhat better, I may need more magnesium. I was once fairly healthy, all things considered, and strong but now the minute I try to do anything that requires additional movement or strength, I have to sit and recover and pant for minutes until I recover. I will come back on here after I've tried the magnesium. I can't really afford too many trips to doctors etc. and I'm not the best patient anyway, I question everything. Thank you for this blog and maybe it will work, for those of us who can't breathe very well, we'll try anything to get some normalcy. The funny thing is, there are times when I'm pretty good and almost forget I have a problem but then just a fast it comes back. I'll get back to you in a week or less if this works for me. Thanks.


Steve D 4 years ago

I agree Congress and the EPA should bring n

Back enhalers....we allow cigarette companies to manufacture the only product I know if that if used properly WILL KILL you, but I can't use my enhaler !!! This country is falling apart at the seams and our "wonderful government" decides to " tackle" the primateen mist issue....what a joke !!! I hope everyone reading this is looking forward to Obamacare !!! Put the environment first, everyone else is waiting in line !!!!!!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for your comment Vicki. I hope your husband gets relief soon. I wouldn't worry about your hairspray though - most hairsprays no longer contain CFCs.


Vicki 4 years ago

I agree with Brandi. My husband also suffers with asthma and it has gotten worse since he has had to get a prescription. He only used his Primitine a couple of times a week, but since he has been on this prescription he has had to use it several times a day! This is crazy! and it does not work! The Primitine was instant and this other stuff is crap!!!! Does not work! Sad to think that my husband is suffering because of the oz layer, which I am sure my hairspray is worse than his two sprays a week, which is going into his lungs and giving him relief and my hair spray is going everywhere just to manage my hair!!!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

I am so sorry about your husband's asthma issues Brandi. I hope that Primatene Mist comes up with their new formula soon. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Brandi Mastain 4 years ago

Nothing seems to work for my husband. This is crap. He has had it since he was 8, and now he suffers, and I am so damn mad. It is expensive to find what works. He found an old inhaler, went from using many puffs a day to using his primitine inhaler once in 5 days. What is wrong with this picture? Greedy pharmaceutical companies.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Tamara, during my interview, Dr. Block said that magnesium was very safe. The injection is even used in pregnant women (for toxemia I think). I didn't ask her specifically about children, but I will be sure to ask other doctors as I look for other options.


tamarawilhite profile image

tamarawilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

Which of these solutions is safe for children?


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Pamela. I hadn't heard of them either, but after researching it, many doctors do use it. I agree that finding the underlying cause of asthma is important. I am sure that if you are low on magnesium or any other vitamin or mineral, there are probably other issues that could also be solved at the same time.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I hadn't heard about magnesium injections to treat asthma. This hub is very useful. I think the problem with so many diseases is symptoms are treated, but not the underlying cause. Voted up.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you teaches12345. Finding the underlying cause is definitely a better approach than just masking the symptoms.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is a good suggestion and I like the fact that you have the support of your Doctor. My sister suffers from asthma (has since she was a young teen) and it is definitely a great idea to find the underlying cause so that you can minimize the medications taken. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Donna. People are really suffering with asthma, especially since we have had a warm winter, and the pollen count is very high.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

Thank you for providing asthma sufferers with such factual and well presented information on alternatives to Primatine Mist. I especially like the fact that you went the extra step to find an expert on this subject to interview and report on your findings. In addition, thank you for linking to my hub on how to find experts to interview on topics of interest. I'm so glad your experience with HARO was a positive one! Voted up and tweeted.

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