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Inhaler Use 101

August 8, 2007, 2:36 PM by Jaine Andrews

Inhaler Use 101
Is there an inhaler in your medicine cabinet right now? It's a more common addition because of the growing number of cases of asthma and lung disease in this country. But just because you have one to use, doesn't mean you're using it correctly. 

Does the term “inhaler” sound familiar? Join the crowd. Nearly everyone with asthma or any other chronic lung disease for that matter has used an inhaler of one kind or another. Problem is respiratory therapist, June Schulz says, "I think the percentage of patients that actually know how to use their inhaler--use them in the right order and know how to use them correctly-- is very small." 

In fact, nearly every patient she sees, does it wrong. Schulz says, "There's a lot of problems, not just with technique, but also knowing which one to use when." There's the rescue inhaler which restores your breath when it's in short supply. Schulz says, "You can use it and go, ‘Whew that really made a difference. I'm breathing better.' “And then there's the maintenance inhaler. Schulz says, "You have to use it every day. Good day, bad day, it doesn't make any difference." 

How you use either is basically the same. Schulz says, "With the puffer, the main problem that we typically see is people try to inhale too fast. What you want to do is try to get that medication as deep into your lungs as possible. And that means you take a slow, deep breath." Then hold that breath for ten seconds and exhale it out. Wait at least one minute before you repeat the process. Schulz says, "You want to let that first puff do something... give it a little chance to work." 

With a maintenance inhaler, Schulz says, “It’s basically sucking powder-- dry powder-- off a tape or out of a capsule. And there's no coordinating, you take a little quicker breath in, but you still take a deep, deep breath and still the breath hold." Rinse your mouth out after each puff. And remember, if you find yourself needing more medicine than is prescribed, Schulz says, "You should get to the hospital. Because if it's not working, obviously taking more of that medication isn't going to all of a sudden make it better." 

Not sure you got all that. Don't worry. We've set up a helpful link, walking you through the process, below:

Online Inhaler Tutorial 

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