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A lot of people have asthma. You may know other people with asthma. But did you know that asthma is actually a serious condition. If you don’t take control and manage your asthma, one day you could end up with an asthma attack. There are many instances in the UK where people die every year (the young and the old), from an acute asthma attack. An acute attack can happen at anytime and is a life-threatening emergency. So – be sure to carry you inhalers with you everywhere you go, because one day, they may save your life. And, if you feel you’re still coughing or wheezy or out of breath despite inhalers, come in for an asthma review with one of our nurses.
How does Asthma work?
More than 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma, and around 250,000 people die from it each year. But why do people get asthma, and how can this disease be deadly? Christopher E. Gaw describes the main symptoms and treatments of asthma.
How to use an MD inhaler
An estimated 90% of patients use their metered dose inhaler incorrectly. Inadequate inhaler technique lowers drug deposition to the lungs, wastes medication and may lead to poor disease control, reduced quality of life, increased emergency hospital admissions and higher treatment costs. Please spread the word to friends and family – share this link so they can also master their inhaler technique and manage their respiratory condition better.
How to use an Dry Powder inhaler
These inhalers hold the medicine as a dry powder which is then breathed in fast and deep. Unlike the Metered Dose (MD) inhalers, these do not have a propellant. To use it correctly…
- Hold it like a hamburger
- Suck it like a milkshake.
COMMON INHALER TECHNIQUE MISTAKES:
- Not breathing out first.
When you breathe out fully (or as much as you comfortably can) just before taking your inhaler, you create more space in your airways 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, and being most effective.
- Not holding your breath after taking your inhaler.
If you’ve been advised to hold your breath after taking in your inhaler, it’s very important to do so. When you hold your breath after inhaling the medicine, you are keeping your airways still. This gives more time for the medicine to get into your lungs. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, this is ideal but if this isn’t possible, you will still benefit by holding it for as long as you feel comfortable.
- Not priming the aerosol inhaler device.
Aerosol inhalers require priming (so you get the right amount of medicine when you use it) before using for the first time, or if they have not been used for a while – always refer to information leaflet.
- Not shaking your MDI before use and between puffs.
If you don’t shake the canister, the asthma medicine and propellant (the substance which helps turn the medicine into aerosol form) will not mix together properly and too much or too little of one will be released.
- Inhaling too early before pressing the canister.
- If you’re already half way 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 and not being carried down to your lungs where it’s needed.
- Inhaling too late after pressing the 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 being sprayed in your mouth and not to your lungs where it’s needed.
- Not leaving enough time between doses.
You need to give your inhaler a good shake between doses and then wait at least 30 to 60 seconds before taking the next puff.
JUST ASK: If you’re ever unsure about your inhaler technique always double check with your pharmacist, nurse practitioner or GP
How to use a SPACER
USEFUL TIPS • Ensure the spacer is the correct one to fit your inhaler. • If your inhaler contains a corticosteroid rinse your mouth out with water after your dose. • If you’re ever unsure about your inhaler technique always double check with your pharmacist, nurse practitioner or GP. • Always read the patient leaflet provided with your inhaler and spacer for any specific instructions.
What to do in an Asthma Attack
The sad news is that asthma attacks kill three people in the UK each day. Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. But many of these deaths could be avoided. Asthma attacks can be frightening, learning this useful knowledge about what to do during an asthma attack could potentially help save a life.
If you think you’re having an asthma attack, you should:
- Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
- Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue salbutamol inhaler) every 30-60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs. It’s best to use your spacer if you have one.
- Call 999 (or emergency services number for your country) for an ambulance if you don’t have your inhaler with you, you feel worse despite using your inhaler, you don’t feel better after taking 10 puffs, or you’re worried at any point.
- If the ambulance hasn’t arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step 2.