Inhaler Technique

This latest post comes straight from our CEO Bronwyn Harris. Bronwyn is a physician and also the mother of a child with asthma.

Inhalers are awesome, but tricky!

I take for granted the inhaler that I give my daughter, but when I take a moment I can appreciate what a great invention it is. For many other conditions, such as heart disease, you have to swallow a pill, and it goes through your blood stream -- often spreading to the whole body -- before it can have an effect on a specific location (e.g. heart or blood vessels). An inhaler allows medicine to go quickly and directly to your lungs where it is needed!  This allows for quick action and less side effects overall.

As tremendous as they are, inhalers do have an Achilles’ heel: they aren’t easy to take, especially for children. Recent research from a team at Rice University highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article found that 70-90% (!) of people don’t use their inhaler appropriately, resulting in less medication getting to their lungs. This led me to actually read the packaging the next time I picked up my daughter’s new inhaler. The instructions, printed on that thin tissue type of paper, opened as big as a fold-up map (anyone remember what those are?)!  There are eight steps listed and steps 2-6 have to be repeated for the second puff. It definitely is more complicated than just swallowing a pill. Really reading through the instructions carefully for the first time I realized that I wasn’t shaking it for five seconds as directed, so I was in that 70% that had wrong technique! If you or someone you care for has asthma, I encourage you to take a moment and review your inhaler technique – there are many great online resources, here’s one that looked good to me. Remember that taking your medications regularly and correctly are an important step in maintaining asthma control!