Statistics of Asthma Inhaler Use
The effectiveness of an asthma inhaler strongly depends on the way it is being used, referred to as "technique". Because the mechanism of medication release does require timely actions from the patient, asthma inhalers in comparison to other conventional drugs (oral medications, pills for example) have a varying efficacy rate, most commonly from 50% - 95% of the maximum available capacity. That means, a patient using an inhaler improperly may only get around two thirds of the intended positive effect from the medication. Not to mention various unpleasant side effects that may arise from improper use.
To help new asthma patients better understand the proper way to use an inhaler, as well as to provide some handy tips for experienced users, we have put up a simple and easy to follow guide to use asthma inhalers.
Before You Start Using your MDI
If you are using your metered dose asthma inhaler for the first time (the device itself is new), whether with or without a spacer, you must first prepare it, or "prime" it. First, shake the inhaler vigorously for around 5 seconds. Then, while holding the device away from your face, press the canister once to release a puff of medication. Press the canister down 3 more times to make sure the medication is steadily released. After you have prepared your inhaler, you do not need to repeat this priming process unless you have not used your inhaler for at least 2 weeks. When you start using your inhaler after a long period of time, or when you buy asthma inhaler online, you should always prime it before the first use.
Easy to Follow Asthma Inhaler Technique
- Firmly hold the device and shake it for at least 5 seconds.
- Remove the protective cap from the mouthpiece. Note that not all asthma inhaler brands may have protective caps installed.
- Hold the inhaler by placing the index finger on top of the canister while providing support on the bottom of the device with your thumb.
- Take a deep breath, then breathe out normally, away from the device.
- Close your lips around the inhaler mouthpiece, or position it about 4 cm (1.5 inches) from the mouth. Your tongue should be relaxed and not blocking the mouthpiece airway.
- Breath in, and at the same time press down on the canister with your index finger and release the medication. Remember that you should inhale deeply through your mouth until you feel the lungs are completely filled. Start inhaling right before you push the canister down.
- Hold your breath for as long as possible, 10 seconds is enough.
- Exhale slowly, then breathe normally.
- If you require another dose of medication, wait at least 20 seconds, or as long as you need to comfortably repeat the process. Shake the canister again before going through steps 3-8.
- Reattach the protective cap to the mouthpiece.
- If you are using an inhaled glucocorticoid, always rinse your mouth with water and spit out without swallowing after the inhalation.