Digihaler Overview (for Asthma)

A “Digihaler” is a high-tech asthma inhaler that uses Bluetooth technology to transmit information about how you use it to an app on your smartphone. The information can then be given to your healthcare provider and used to make decisions about your asthma treatment.

While the technology is new, the medications used in Digihalers are not new to the pharmaceutical market. Here’s everything you should know about using a Digihaler to manage your asthma.

An unseen person holding an inhaler and smartphone

Richard Bailey / Getty Images

Types of Digihalers

A few types of Digihalers are available, and the market is rapidly expanding. Examples are provided below.

While the data collection and transmission functions are similar, the medications in each inhaler are different. Your doctor will help you figure out which one is best for you.

ProAir Digihaler

The ProAir Digihaler is a rescue inhaler approved for the use of bronchospasm, including exercise-induced bronchospasm, in people over the age of 4 years.

Ingredients

The inhaler contains a powdered form of albuterol sulfate, a bronchodilator commonly used to treat asthma. It also has a built-in electronic module that transmits information about its use to a smart device through a downloaded app.

You can use the medication whether or not you have the app downloaded.

Side Effects

Common side effects of albuterol include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling shaky or nervous (excitability)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach

Less common side effects include decreased potassium levels and high blood sugar.

Studies are currently being conducted to determine whether the ProAir Digihaler is beneficial for use in the treatment of COPD.

Precautions

If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to albuterol, you should not use the ProAir Digihaler or an inhaler that contains albuterol.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor if it’s OK for you to use an albuterol inhaler.

You should also tell your doctor about any medications that you already take because albuterol can interact with other medications.

AirDuo Digihaler

The AirDuo Digihaler contains fluticasone propionate and salmeterol powder for the prevention and maintenance of asthma symptoms. It is not a rescue inhaler. It is approved for use in people ages 12 and older.

Ingredients

The first ingredient in the AirDuo Digihaler is fluticasone, which is a corticosteroid. When used in an inhaled form at regular intervals, the medication prevents asthma symptoms by reducing airway inflammation.

The AirDuo Digihaler is not a rescue inhaler and not effective for relieving the symptoms of an acute asthma attack. It is important to use AirDuo on a regular basis as prescribed.

The other ingredient is salmeterol, a long-acting beta-agonist that prevents bronchospasms by relaxing and dilating the airways. It is not effective at stopping an acute asthma attack.

Side Effects

Common side effects of fluticasone include:

Possible side effects of salmeterol can include:

  • Nervousness and shaking
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn

ArmonAir Digihaler

The ArmonAir Digihaler is approved for people over the age of 12. It contains fluticasone propionate powder. The inhaler’s built-in module automatically records information about its use when the cap is removed or when you inhale.

The ArmonAir Digihaler is available in three doses—55mcg, 113mcg, and 232mcg—for the maintenance and prevention of asthma attacks.

Other “Smart” Inhalers

The inhalers with the name “Digihaler” are all made by a company named Teva. There are also similar technologies on the market that do not go by the name “Digihaler.”

Propeller Health

Propeller makes sensors that are designed to attach to the inhaler that you are already using to help you better control your asthma symptoms.

The inhaler’s sensors are capable of recording when, where, and how your medication is used. The associated app is capable of recording the current weather, triggers, and symptoms. It can also generate reports.

Studies have suggested that the use of a Propeller sensor may decrease the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations among individuals who use the technology.

SmartInhaler

The SmartInhaler, also a sensor that attaches to your inhaler, is manufactured by a New Zealand company named Adherium.

The sensor is capable of recording the date and time of your inhaler use, as well as reminding you to use your inhaler at preset times.

The device will show a green light when the inhaler has not been used. The light changes to red after you have administered the dose. The data can be sent to a computer or smartphone with a USB link.

How Digihalers Work

The high-tech inhalers with the name “Digihaler,” made by Teva, look and work very similar to other asthma inhalers. The main difference is that they contain an electronic module with a QR code on top of the inhaler.

Other parts of the inhaler include a mouthpiece and vent, along with an associated cap which keeps these parts clean. There is a battery inside of the sensor which the company states does not need charging or replacement.

The Digihaler also has a dosage counter, which can alert you when you are running low and need to refill your medication.

To enable the digital features of your Digihaler, download the app on your smart device and then scan the QR code.

You do not need to enable the digital features of your Digihaler to use the medication. Do not delay a needed dose just because you haven’t yet downloaded the app.

Benefits

Digihalers and similar technology are relatively new to asthma treatment. Research on the benefits of their use is limited.

Possible benefits of the connected inhalers include:

  • Improved and more accurate data gathering about how your medications are being used
  • Having an easier, clearer way to tell if you have missed a dose, preventing a missed dose, and/or preventing overuse of your asthma medication
  • Improved communication with your healthcare provider
  • In some cases, the technology may help to identify data about potential triggers of an asthma attack, as well as information about your symptoms.

Barriers to Use

Some aspects of Digihalers and other smart inhalers make them less accessible to some people with asthma.

The AirDuo Digihaler has a built-in module that can be used to record data about your inhaler use (such as peak inspiratory flow) on a smart device. It comes in several doses, including 55/14mcg, 113/14mcg, and 232/14mcg.

Potential barriers to using connected inhalers include:

  • They are slightly more expensive than traditional inhalers.
  • Poor Internet connections or cellular coverage can interfere with the ability of the device to function and record data properly.
  • Non-tech-savvy patients may find the technology too difficult to use.

Before you start using your Digihaler or other “smart” inhaler, read the included prescribing information. Talk to a pharmacist or your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. DailyMed. Proair Digihaler.

  2. National Library of Science. ProAir Digihaler in COPD disease management: a real world study. Updated May 12, 2021.

  3. University of Michigan Health. Albuterol inhalation. Updated November 18, 2020.

  4. Flovent.com. About Flovent HFA.

  5. MedlinePlus. Salmeterol oral inhalation.

  6. Himes BE, Leszinsky L, Walsh R, et al. Mobile health and inhaler-based monitoring devices for asthma managementJ Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2019;7(8):2535-2543. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2019.08.034

  7. Teva. Instructions for use—ProAir Digihaler. Updated December 2018.

  8. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Teva announces two more digital inhalers for asthma - AirDuo Digihaler and ArmonAir Digihaler.

  9. Teva. Digihaler technology: see the innovative technology inside.