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Are you using your inhaler correctly? Why it matters...

If you have never used an Inhaler, it may look easy.  However, most actors or sports figures on TV who you see using an inhaler are doing it wrong!  If you were just prescribed an inhaler but not thoroughly instructed on how to use it, chances are you’re not using it correctly.  Even if you have used an inhaler for many years, it is easy to develop some bad habits that may decrease the amount of medication that is delivered to the lungs.  Even if you are using your inhaler correctly, usually less than 50% (yes, that’s right, less than 1/2 and usually closer to 1/3!) of the medication reaches the small airways of the lungs where it is needed to treat asthma.

All patients with asthma will have a rescue inhaler such as albuterol (Pro-Air®, http://www.proairhfa.com/, Ventolin®,http://www.ventolin.com/ , Proventil®, http://www.proventilhfa.com/ ) or lev-albuterol (Xopenex®, http://www.xopenex.com/).  These all come as traditional “press-and-breathe” inhalers known as metered-dose inhalers (MDI).

Patients with persistent asthma will also be taking a daily controller medication.  These inhalers can be either MDI inhalers such as Q-var® , Alvesco®, Flovent® MDI, Advair MDI®, Dulera® or Symbicort®, or Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI) such as Flovent diskus®, Advair diskus®, Pulmicort Flexhaler®, or Asmanex Twisthaler®.

When using a MDI, a holding chamber or “spacer” should be attached the MDI to limit problems with coordination thus improving lung deposition of the medication and decreasing potential side effects like thrush in the mouth.  A good example is the OptiChamber ® (http://optichamberholdingchamber.respironics.com/) A DPI does not need a holding chamber.   The technique is significantly different for MDI vs. DPI.  When using a MDI, you breathe in nice and slow then hold your breath for 10 seconds. In contrast, when using a DPI, breathe in rapidly and deeply, and then hold your breath for 10 seconds.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we strive to use the least amount of medication necessary to control and prevent asthma symptoms.  You will be instructed on the use of your inhaler to ensure that the most medication possible reaches the small airways of the lungs.  In this way, you may require a less potent dose or fewer puffs to achieve the same good end result.

And isn’t that what we all really want?  Less medication and better asthma control!  It’s at your fingertips and your lips!

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