Half of kids with asthma ‘make potentially fatal mistakes when using inhalers’

NEARLY half of asthmatic kids are in danger from an attack because they don’t use their inhalers correctly.

That’s the finding of a new study in which experts found teens are most at risk.

 Nearly half of kids aren't using their inhalers correctly

Getty – Contributor

Nearly half of kids aren’t using their inhalers correctly

Experts examined the inhaler usage of 113 children aged two to 16.

42 per cent missed at least one critical step in their inhaler technique, with 18 per cent failing to use a spacer device with their inhaler – which is recommended to help the right amount of medication to reach the lungs.

Those mistakes mean that nearly half of kids are routinely not taking in the full dose of their medicine.

The news comes as last year, experts warned that one in three adults wasn’t taken their medication correctly.

“We know that asthma can be well managed in the majority of patients and using your inhaler correctly is key factor to managing asthma,” said lead author Dr Waheeda Samady, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Bad technique can lead to hospitalisation

“Improper inhaler technique can contribute to children having uncontrolled asthma and needing to come to the hospital for their asthma.

“Our study suggests that as healthcare providers we can do a better job showing patients and families the correct inhaler and spacer technique, and checking it frequently to ensure they master it.”

He said that teens, in particular, seems to need close monitoring to make sure that they use their inhalers correctly – especially as they’re the ones less likely to use their spacer.

Spacers aren’t just for kids

Dr Samady said that “teens may feel that using a spacer is only for younger children, but using a spacer is recommended for adults as well”.

Previous studies have shown that adding a spacer device to an inhaler increases the amount of asthma medication someone takes in from 34 per cent to 83 per cent.

“Children with asthma can lead full lives if they receive the right medication at the appropriate dose, which is why correct inhaler technique is so crucial.”

Get regular technique check-ups

Asthma UK recommends that parents get their children’s inhaler techniques checked regularly.

The charity says that it’s crucial that’s done by a GP, nurse or pharmacist – even if they’ve been using an inhaler for ages.

“They might have slipped into bad habits or benefit from a tiny tweak, so it’s always worth another check.

“Some people tell us inhalers can be hard to use. Even if you think your inhaler technique is OK, it might not be – a recent survey we carried out found that up to a third of people with asthma aren’t using their inhaler in the right way.”

Using a wrong technique can mean that you’re more likely to get side effects like oral thrush or a sore throat, because the medicine is hitting hte back of the throat or just staying on the tongue.

Correct technique, on the other hand, sees the medicine go down into the airways where it’s needed.

They’ve uploaded a series of helpful videos which can tell you if you or your child is using certain inhalers correctly.

Common inhaler mistakes

According to Asthma UK, there are 11 common mistakes many people make when it comes to using an inhaler:

1. not breathing in the right way for your type of inhaler

  • If you have a pressurised Metered Dose Inhaler (pMDI), you need to breathe in slow and steady. At the same time, press the canister on the inhaler once. Continue to breathe in slowly over 3 to 4 seconds, until your lungs feel full.
  • If you have a dry powder inhaler you need to breathe in quickly and deeply until your lungs feel full, to be sure you inhale all the medicine.

2. forgetting to shake the inhaler first

  • Not all inhalers need to be shaken – check first

3. not waiting between puffs

  • With some inhalers, you need to wait least 30 to 60 seconds before taking the next puff. This gives the medicine and propellant enough time to mix together.

4. not breathing out before using an inhaler

  • When you breathe out as fully as you can just before taking your inhaler, you create more space in your lungs for your next breath in. This means that you can breathe in deeper and for longer when you inhale your asthma medicine – giving it the best chance of reaching the small airways deep inside your lungs.

5. not having a tight lip seal

  • Making sure that your lips are tightly sealed around your inhaler will make sure that the medicine goes where it’s needed

6. not lifting your chin slightly before breathing in

  • Lifting your chin will help the medication go into the lungs more effectively

7. breathing in too early before pressing the inhaler canister

  • If you’re already halfway through breathing in by the time the medicine is released from the inhaler, you won’t have enough time to finish breathing in all the medicine because your lungs will already be full. If this happens, some of the medicine will end up being sprayed in your mouth and hitting the back of your throat. It won’t be carried down to your lungs where it’s needed.

8. breathing in too late after pressing the inhaler canister (unless you’re using a spacer)

  • It takes less than half a second from the time the canister is pressed for all the medicine inside the inhaler to be released. If you breathe in after this time, some of the medicine will end up in your mouth instead of being carried down to your lungs where it’s needed.

9. not holding your breath after taking your inhaler

  • If you’ve been advised to hold your breath after using your inhaler, it’s important you do – holding your breath keeps your airways still, giving the medicine more time to settle into your lungs. Ten seconds is ideal, but if this isn’t possible, you’ll still benefit by holding your breath for as long as you feel comfortable.

10. not using a spacer

  • They’re not just for kids!

11. forgetting to take your inhaler at the same time every day

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