Asthma: How To Use Inhalers
The treatment of asthma with inhaled medicine is much more effective than with oral medicine. Inhaled medicines also cause far fewer side effects. Asthma inhalers have become the mainstay of treating asthma. The inhalers can also fit in a pocket and be readily available to the teenager with a sudden asthma attack. Despite the importance of inhalers, over 50 percent of children and adults with asthma use them improperly. The spray ends up on the face or in the mouth, instead of in the lungs.
Here are some tips for using an inhaler correctly:
- First: Shake the inhaler well to get a good mix of the drug and the propellant.
- Second: Position the inhaler 1 or 2 inches away from the opening of the mouth. This gives much better delivery of the spray than if the inhaler is held in the mouth.
- Third: Breathe out completely.
- Fourth: As you start to breathe in, also press down on the inhaler and release a puff. Coordinating these two actions is the tricky part. Your goal is to spray the asthma medicine into your airstream as you are breathing in. This is the most difficult step in using an inhaler.
- Fifth: Breathe in slowly and completely. This action will help the medicine go deep into the lungs.
- Sixth: Hold your breath in full inspiration for 10 seconds. Your goal is to get as much absorption of the medicine into the lung tissue as possible. The most common mistake in inhaler technique is not holding the breath at the end of breathing-in.
- Seventh: Take some normal breaths.
- Eighth: Give a second puff if that has been recommended. Wait 1 minute before taking a second puff. This allows the first puff to open up the airways so that the second puff can go further down and do more good.
- Finally: If your child is younger than 8 years old, he should not be using an inhaler without a spacer. A spacer allows a child to inhale medicines without coordinating their breathing and the release of the spray. A spacer can double the amount of medicine that gets to the lungs.
If you have other questions about inhalers or spacers, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 9/1/2009
Last Revised: 10/9/2009 10:52:39 AM
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.