Local News

Rush For Relief Can Lead To Improper Use Of Inhalers

Posted May 1, 2001 3:21 a.m. EDT

— For asthma sufferers, the rush for breathing relief often makes for incorrect use of inhalers. The wrong technique can make the disease worse in the long run.

During an asthma attack, sufferers still need to take the time to properly get the medicine they need.

Doctors and pharmacists can demonstrate the correct way to use an asthma inhaler.

Tina Brock, a clinical assistant professor at UNC, explains the correct procedure.

"Shake [the inhaler] well. Exhale deeply to the end of a full breath. You want to place the inhaler in your mouth," says Brock.

Make a firm seal around the mouthpiece with the mouth, making sure not to block the mouth piece with the tongue or teeth.

"Sit up straight. Begin a slow, deep inhalation and then depress that. Inhale deeply as full as you can, hold it for a count of 10, and exhale through the nose or through pursed lips," she says.

Brock says the most common mistakes are blocking the mouthpiece with the tongue or teeth, and not coordinating inhalation with depressing the canister.

"Not inhaling deeply, not holding the breath as the medication actually goes down into the lungs -- especially with the quick relief medications -- causes the lungs to relax. The longer you can hold it in there the better," Brock says.

Spacers can help asthma sufferers who find it hard to coordinate the timing for squeezing the inhaler and breathing in. A chamber holds the mist so patients can breathe it in properly.

Spacers are especially helpful for children andseniors.