Common mistakes taking inhaled medications for asthma leave many young patients with uncontrolled asthma. A lot of children were never taught how to use their inhalers correctly, leading to serious problems.
Poor inhaler technique fails to deliver medications deep into the airways where they are needed. Among the more common mistakes children make is using an inhaler without a spacer, a plastic tube attached to the mouthpiece. When children activate the inhaler, the spacer lets the medication mix with air so that it can be inhaled more effectively. For smaller children, spacers often are paired with masks to make the process easier.
Without a spacer, 70 to 80 percent of the medicine ends up in the child’s mouth and never gets deep into the lungs where it needs to be.
If your child uses an inhaler to control asthma, here are some tips to help him or her get the most out of the medicine:
- Always stand when using an inhaler. Standing allows the lungs to fully expand so the medication can get where it is needed most.
- Look straight ahead. You want to make sure your child’s head is in a neutral position, not leaning forward or backward. This will help direct the medicine into the airways and prevent it from collecting in the mouth.
- Before inhaling, exhale. Have your child take some normal breaths and then a big, deep breath, then fully exhale so the lungs are empty. Then, when your child inhales, the medicine gets deep into the lungs.
- Inhale slowly. Even if your child is having trouble breathing, be sure she inhales the medicine slowly. If you hear a whistling sound from the spacer, you know you she is inhaling too quickly.
- Close lips around the mouthpiece. The medicine can easily escape the mouthpiece, so be sure your child makes a tight seal with his lips to get all the medication into his lungs.