Which Asthma Medication Delivery Method is Right for Your Child?
When it comes to controlling your child’s asthma, your doctor will likely prescribe a combination of controller and rescue treatments. There are a handful of different ways to deliver both controller and rescue medication, depending on the severity of your child’s asthma symptoms and your child’s ability to take medication with proper technique. The medication delivery methods in your child’s asthma management plan will likely fall under one of four categories:
The most well-known medication delivery method, inhalers are handheld devices that deliver medication directly into the lungs. The two primary types of inhalers are metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs). MDIs use an aerosol canister for medication delivery, while DPIs administer dry powder medication. Because the MDI inhalers require direct aim at the patient’s airway and exact timing of breathing, it is recommended that pediatric patients have a spacer attached to their inhaler to help the medicine reach the lungs with accuracy and efficiency. For details on how to use properly use an inhaler with a spacer, check out this video.
A nebulizer (pictured in header image) is a machine that turns liquid medication into mist and delivery it into the airway using a tube, mouthpiece, or mask. Nebulizers are often prescribed to pediatric patients who struggle with other delivery methods, rendering them a good option for parents with young kids who have trouble mastering the inhaler technique. They can also be easier to take when your child is having significant symptoms and unable to take a deep breath. One challenge with nebulizer is the reliance on a power supply (either battery powered or electrical outlet), which in addition to the size makes it difficult to use while on the go. For step-by-step instructions on how to use a nebulizer, head here.
There are some asthma medications that can be taken by mouth in either liquid or pill form. One example, Singulair™, works as a controller medication without containing steroid medications. Other asthma medications taken by mouth such as prednisone or prednisolone are oral steroid treatments. Oral steroids are typically prescribed for use during exacerbations.
These treatments deliver a high dose of steroid to the body and help to decrease inflammation quickly, usually within a few hours. They are best used sparingly, as it is more ideal to use a daily controller medication with a very small amount of steroid that can be delivered directly into the lungs. In some cases, small doses of oral steroids are prescribed for long-term daily treatment for patients whose symptoms are persistent.
Injection asthma treatments are designed to help patients with moderate to severe symptoms caused by allergies, working to block the antibody that drives allergy symptoms. They are typically administered once or twice a month at the doctors office. Asthma treatment injections can be recommended for children and adults with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma that isn’t adequately controlled by an inhaled corticosteroid.