What is asthma?
Asthma is a common long term chronic inflammatory condition affecting the respiratory tract and the lungs. It is estimated that someone in the UK has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack every 10 seconds.
Why is proper inhaler technique important?
Despite there being an appropriate number of inhalers given out to those that need them, three people die every day from asthma-related conditions.
What we need to do to stop this happening
Many asthmatics currently misuse their inhalers. They do not use their inhalers properly, often demonstrating poor technique. This is one of the primary reasons for worsening asthma symptoms as well as asthma attacks which can lead to deaths. This can easily be avoided if asthma patients are taught how to use their inhalers properly.
Our pharmacy currently offers an inhaler technique service to help you understand what actions should be taken to make the most of your inhaler.
Getting to know your inhaler
Treatment for asthma using inhaler therapy is currently a two-pronged approach. A “preventer” (consisting mainly of a steroid but sometimes in combination with a long-acting bronchodilator) inhaler should be used daily to treat the chronic inflammation. This is extremely important as the correct dose and correct use of this inhaler keeps asthma symptoms under control and removes or drastically reduces the need for the “reliever” inhaler.
The “reliever” inhaler is to be used sporadically to help relieve asthma symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath when your airways have become irritated due to exposure to irritants, cold air or increased exertion. According to Asthma Right Care, you should not need to use your blue reliever inhaler more than once in any one day. This is the equivalent of two inhalers a year. If you are using it more than this, it could mean you are either not using your “preventer” inhaler properly or that the strength or dose is no longer sufficient for you.
Basic inhaler techniques
If you use an inhaler regularly and feel you aren’t getting the most out of the medicine then you maybe:
- failing to shake the inhaler before activating it properly
- holding the inhaler in the wrong position when in use
- failing to breathe out fully before activating the inhaler
- activating the inhaler too early before fully breathing out
- activating the inhaler too late as you fully breathe in
- breathing in too quickly
- not re-shaking the inhaler after quick sessions of relieve
You can take on these short and basic techniques to help you improve your overall inhaler technique.
We present an inhaler technique service to ensure that your device is being used properly. We do this by delivering a 1 to 1 consultation which will cover education, training, monitoring and support for our patients with respiratory conditions.
Good Inhaler technique, whether you are using your reliever or preventer inhaler, helps you to effectively inhale the medicine straight into your lungs. With a good technique, you are much less likely to experience any side effects because the inhaler medicine is breathed directly into the lungs, where it is needed.
For some types of inhalers, such as metered-dose inhalers (Also known as MDI), you will need to wait between 30 to 60 seconds before taking the next puff. This gives the medicine enough time to mix with the propellant.
It is best if you do use a spacer whenever you use your inhaler. Spacers are attachments that fit onto the end of an inhaler to help ensure the medicine reaches your lungs.
Without a spacer, most of the medicine ends up staying in your mouth or stomach where it will not work as efficiently