How to Use Asthma Inhalers and Devices Correctly

By : Caspian Davenport Date : July 31, 2023

How to Use Asthma Inhalers and Devices Correctly

Deciphering Asthma Inhalers and Devices

Given that I have been an asthma parent for over a decade now, I know that dealing with asthma is not a walk in the park. It's like trying to take two of my overly excited kids, Shaela and Thaddeus, to the candy store and expecting them to calmly decide on one sweet. Notwithstanding, understanding how to use asthma inhalers and devices correctly is a game-changer. It's like having the GPS navigate through Adelaide's peak hour traffic. It makes handling the condition less complicated and more manageable. So, let's dive in and get a grip on these helpful tools in our asthma management arsenal.

Understanding Asthma Inhalers

As a parent, I've learned that understanding something is the first step to conquering it. The same goes for asthma inhalers - you've got to grasp what they are, what they do, and the different types available. In simple terms, an asthma inhaler is a handheld device that delivers medication directly to your lungs. Just imagine it as a tiny, but powerful, spaceship that transports the helpful aliens (the medication) directly to the affected planet (your lungs) preventing any planetary wars (asthma attacks).

There are usually two types of inhalers: Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) and Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI). One's no better than the other; it's like choosing between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, depends wholly on your personal taste, or in this case, comfort and medical advice.

Mastering the Technique with Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs)

Just like how I had to master my BBQ skills to survive the Aussie summer cookouts, getting the technique right with these inhalers is crucial to their effectiveness. Remember, this is not a race, go slow, and follow the steps closely. First, shake the inhaler well for about five seconds. Remove the cap and breathe out fully. Place the inhaler in your mouth, ensuring it’s held upright. As you start to breathe in slowly, press down on the inhaler to release the medication. Continue breathing in slowly and deeply, then hold your breath for about 10 seconds to let the medication reach deep into your lungs. Finally, breathe out slowly. You've just successfully completed your journey to the centre of the lung!

Getting the Hang of Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs)

So, you've figured out the MDIs, now let's explore the other type of inhaler - Dry Powder Inhalers. While they're as different as chalk and cheese or as we say here in Australia, kangaroos and koalas, the DPIs have their own charm because they're breath-activated. This means that the medication is released when you take a deep and forceful breath in. It's kind of like those self-serve frozen yogurt stations where the yogurt only comes out as you press the lever. You have to load the medication, breathe out completely, place your mouth around the mouthpiece and then take a deep, fast breath in. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds and then breathe out slowly. Doesn't sound too challenging, right?

The Role of Spacers in Managing Asthma

The Milky Way to the lungs has a crucial pitstop - the spacers! If inhalers are the helpful spaceships, think of the spacers as the helpful space station, assisting them on their journey. Also called holding chambers, a spacer is a clear plastic container that you can attach to an inhaler. When a dose is sprayed, it gets trapped in the spacer, which then funnels the medicine directly to your lungs as you breathe in. It's like hiring an extra efficient postman to ensure your mail gets delivered correctly.

Nebulizers: The Superheroes of Asthma Management

Now, what if I told you there's a superhero in our asthma management plot? Well, let me introduce you to Nebulizers. These converts asthma medication into a fine mist that you breathe in through a mask or a mouthpiece. It's like having a personal rain cloud of medication, showering your lungs with the treatment they need. Nebulizers are generally used in more severe cases, or when action is needed pronto - like Thor jumping in with his hammer!

Keeping your Asthma Devices in Top Shape

They've been your faithful allies in managing asthma, so they deserve some TLC, right? Regularly cleaning and maintaining these devices is paramount to ensure their effectiveness — it's in the same vein as backing up your computer data: a necessary, life-saving task!

For inhalers, remove the metal canister and rinse only the plastic casing and cap in warm water once a week. Let it air dry completely before reassembling. Don’t forget to check the expiry date and remaining doses regularly. Spacers need a monthly wash in warm water with dish soap and should be air-dried, no rub or rinse. Nebulizers require a more careful cleaning regime post each use, and detailed instructions can usually be found on the manufacturer's guide. Remember, these devices are like the superheroes behind the scenes, the Batman to your Gotham, so keeping them in their prime is of utmost importance!

Asthma can be a difficult opponent, but with a good understanding of your arsenal and how to use it, you can keep control of your (or your kids') asthma. Just like you wouldn't go into bat at an important cricket match without knowing how to swing that willow, don't try to manage asthma without mastering these devices. I may not be a medical professional, but as someone who has managed asthma with my kids year after year, I can tell you that knowing is truly half the battle.

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