I sometimes jokingly claim that Ive inhaled more bronchodilators(asthma medicine), than any living person! Well, after doing some rough calculations , that claim might not be as far fetched as it sounds.
This past week I had a lot downtime due to crappy breathing , so I thought it might be a fun diversion to sit down and try to figure out how much Albuterol Ive inhaled over my life time.
For the sake of simplicity, and the fact that Albuterol has only been around about 25 years, I decided to include ALL the inhaled bronchodialator medicines that Ive taken. The results of course ,will be a rough estimate.
OK, assuming that Ive been using inhalers for appx 45 years , and assuming that I was taking just the minimum recommended dose of 1-2 puffs 4 x day. That works out to 131,400 hits off the inhalers.
The math ( 8 puffs per day x 365 days x 45 years= 131,400 puffs).
But wait , that’s just the beginning. Now, lets add in all the Albuterol Ive inhaled in the nebulized form and we’ll convert that number into the equivalent number of inhaler puffs.
For calculation purposes, I will use the generally accepted formula, of one unit dose of Albuterol solution, equaling 4 puffs of Albuterol from an inhaler taken with a spacer. ( without a spacer, it would be more like 8 puffs)
Since Ive been taking neb treatments 4 times per day on a regular basis for about 10 years, that would equate to a whopping 87,600 inhaler puffs!
The math. (1 neb treatment = 4 puffs albuterol x 6 times per day x 356 days x 10 years = 87,600 puffs!)
We’re not done yet…Lets not forget about all the continuous nebs Ive been on while hospitalized during those same 10 years. I’ll use a conservative figure of 2 hospitalizations per year and a figure of 72 hours of continuous nebs per hospitalization. I’ll also calculate the average dose of Albuterol at 10 mg/hr (very conservative, as I’m usually on 20mg or more per hours) We’ll also assume that we are using the standard 5% solution.
The math ( 10mg per hour of continuously nebulized albuterol, is the equivalent of taking 144 individual neb treatments in a 72 hour period. 144 neb treatments x twice a year = 288 neb treatments x 10 years = 2880 neb treatments.
2880 neb treatments is the equivalent of 11,520 puffs from an inhaler!)
So, we have, 131,400 + 87,600+ 11,520 for grand total of 230,520 or roughly a quarter of a million hits off an inhaler !
Just to put this into perspective, there are about 180 actuations (puffs) in a single inhaler, which means Ive gone through the equivalent of 1,280 inhalers.
1,280 inhalers divided by 50 years = 26 inhalers per year ( starting at the age of 4) That’s about one full inhaler every 2 weeks over the course of my entire life. That’s a lot of inhalers! It’s amazing I don’t glow in the dark or something.