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Most Kids With Asthma Aren’t Using Their Inhalers Correctly

child using inhaler

If you have a child with asthma, you know how serious it can be, especially during an attack. Inhalers are incredibly important in providing almost immediate relief to a child who is in breathing distress, and preventative medications are crucial to controlling to the chronic disease.

While there are medications that are very effective in treating asthma, you may be surprised to hear that most kids aren't actually using their inhalers correctly, which is having an impact on their effectiveness. A recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice suggests that only 15.5% of people — both adults and children — are using their inhalers correctly! The study notes that two of the most common issues when it comes to using an inhaler were that people weren't exhaling completely after a metered dose and were also not holding their breath properly.

The study found that 84% of patients waited less than the recommended 30 seconds between doses while 50% waited less than 15 seconds. “We were shocked in terms of the patterns of medication administration that appear to be contrary to how we teach that medications should be administered,” Dr. Stanley Szefler, co-author on the study, stated.

“This study shows that our patients are not taking the medications in the way they ideally should be,” Dr. William Anderson, another co-author of the study said. “That also falls to us, as providers, to make sure they know all the steps in taking an inhaled medication for asthma.”

Dr. Francine M. Ducharme who has studied the efficacy and safety of asthma management told the NY Times that inadequate technique is a big problem in the administration of asthma medication. “We need to recheck the technique, children are very creative,” she said, noting parents need to observe their child taking their medication often to ensure they are following the proper steps. She said in her own clinic “it’s amazing the number of times we find things that have to be corrected.”

There are many different steps with regards to properly taking an asthma inhaler, Dr. Anderson states, including proper preparation of the inhaler, the proper seal of the mouth around the mouthpiece, and adequate time between metered doses. The Children's Hospital of Colorado has published a very informative video for parents and children that illustrates exactly how an inhaler should be used.

Asthma can be a very scary disease, but it is also a disease that can be controlled through medication. However, like all medications, it's crucial that it be used properly to ensure maximum effectiveness. If you have a child with asthma, you may want to watch the video above and read up on the proper methods of administration to ensure your child is using their inhaler properly and getting the most out of their medicine.

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