I’ve had several people asking.. Can we use inhalers whilst fasting? Some ulema have said its okay?
In my video and written post on the permissibility of eye drops, I have stated an age old principle that: anything which passes the throat or enters the stomach directly or through large orifices (ie mouth or back passage) deliberately (ie taken on purpose- whatever the purpose may be) breaks the fast.
Based on this principle inhalers contain several hundred micrograms of drug matter which even though seem to be ‘air’, they are not, when actuated, inhalers produce a cloud of suspended solid state particles, either in aerosol form or dry powder form. These particles pass the throat to enter the trachea to make their way into the lungs where they do their job!
Now according to the rule above.. A person using an inhaler has deliberately inserted these particles in the mouth where they then pass the throat!
Now the misunderstandings are as follows which have led some scholars to render use valid:
1. The particles from the inhaler enter the lungs.
A: indeed they do but they pass the throat thereby break the fast according to the principle stated. In addition some particles do enter the oesophagus also by default.
2. There is a rule that if anything is accidentally swallowed to the size of a sesame seed or smaller, that does not invalidate the fast. The particles of one puff of an inhaler are still only a fraction of a sesame seed so this can’t break the fast.
A: this rule just stated is for ‘accidentally’ swallowing… An inhaler is taken deliberately, a purposeful action. Therefore anything taken deliberately (as per original principle above), breaks the fast and so in this case does the use of an inhaler.
3. An inhaler is like breathing in air?
A: no it’s not, the inhaler produces a cloud of minute drug particles.
Also particles of the medication dissolve in the saliva which is subsequently swallowed.
All in all, the conclusion is, the use of an inhaler will render the fast void.
May I add here that if your medical condition necessitates the use of an inhaler, you may use it, your fast will break but you will not be sinful for this, you have a valid shar’i uzr/reason. There is no kaffara, simply kadha. Keep kadha fast on another day, maybe a shorter winter day where you may be able to get through the day easier without the use of an inhaler. And if you can’t even do this then you can give fidya.
Allah ﷻ & His Rasool ﷺ know best.
By Shaykh Abu Yusha Yasin