By DAVE RANDOLPH
There are millions who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses that lead them to using an inhaler. There are two ‘classes’ of inhaler. The first is a rescue inhaler and the second is a maintenance inhaler. A rescue inhaler is intended for those times when you need immediate symptom relief, like when you are having an asthma attack. A maintenance inhaler is intended to be used on a regular basis to prevent attacks. The goal of an inhaler is to allow the user to live an active lifestyle without worrying about an attack.
Many people rely on inhalers but, they do not know how to properly use one. You will not receive the full benefits if you are not using it correctly. There are many types of inhalers but the two most common are metered-dose inhalers (MDI’s) and dry powder inhalers (DPI’s). Metered-dose inhalers (like Proventil) use a pressure to release medication from the device. When you press the canister a small burst of medicine is sprayed. When using this type of inhaler, the timing is the most important thing. You want to squeeze the canister (resulting in the ‘puff’) and take a deep breath in. Then hold your breath before slowly releasing. Repeat the process if necessary. If you see a fine mist coming from your mouth or nose the inhaler is not being used correctly. Then there are the dry powder inhalers (like Advair Diskus). These inhalers release the medication when the patient inhales rapidly. With this form of inhaler, you want to put your mouth on the mouth piece and inhale as strongly/rapidly as you can. The benefit of this form of inhaler is the timing needed with an MDI is not necessary.
If you have difficulty getting the timing down with your MDI (common in children) then using a spacer is always a good option. A spacer is a short hollow tube that attaches to the mouthpiece of your inhaler. It allows the medication to be held in the chamber after you dispense it giving you a chance to properly inhale. This means the medication will be getting all the way to your lungs instead of being deposited onto the back of your throat.
Have more inhaler questions? Feel free to call in to the radio show or visit the pharmacy!