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Asthma In Children

How to Use Medication Effectively

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 17:28

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The medication given to prevent and treat asthma is usually inhaled, because it gets directly to the lungs, where it is needed. Depending on the child's age, there are several different devices through which the medicine can be inhaled:

  • Through an inhaler. An inhaler is a device in which the medication is contained in a small pressurized canister that releases a pre-measured or "metered" dose. This is called a metered-dose inhaler or an MDI - sometimes also called "the puffer."
  • Through an inhaler with a built-in spacer. A spacer is a small container attached to the inhaler. The spacer acts as a reservoir. The medication goes from the inhaler into the spacer, where it turns into a fine mist. The child then breathes the medication in from the spacer.

    Studies suggest that spacers greatly improve the effectiveness of the medication. They are recommended for younger children who are unable to use an aerosol inhaler. But some experts recommend that all children who use inhalers should use spacers as well.

  • Through a nebulizerA nebulizer is a small air compressor that turns medication into a fine mist that the child breathes in over a period of about 10 minutes. Nebulizers are used for children who are too young to use the inhalers correctly. Sometimes they are used by older children during severe attacks, when they cannot coordinate their breathing with an inhaler. The medication is delivered either through a mask or through a mouthpiece. For children over the age of 3 or 4, the mouthpiece is considered better, because more medicine can get into the lungs. It is not wasted on the child's face.

How To Information

How To Use An Inhaler With A Spacer

  • Shake the inhaler, to mix up the medication
  • Connect the inhaler to the spacer.
  • Breathe in deeply, then breathe out.
  • Place lips firmly around the mouthpiece of the spacer.
  • Push the plunger on the inhaler once.
  • Breathe in slowly and deeply; hold breath for five to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for each "dose" of medication.

Advantages of the spacer

The spacer helps to mix the medication with air before it is breathed in, so that:

  • It's easier to breathe the medication deep into the lungs.
  • There is less chance of medication sticking to the mouth and throat, where it can taste bad, irritate the tissues, and get swallowed into the stomach where it may be absorbed into the blood.

Note: With inhaled steroids, children should always use a spacer to prevent soreness and yeast infections in the mouth.

How To Information

How To Use A "Dry Powder" InhalerTo load the inhaler:

  • Hold in an upright position (mouthpiece up).
  • Twist the brown grip fully to the right and then back to the left.
  • You will hear a click - it is now loaded.
  • Do not shake or blow into the inhaler after loading it.

Inhaling the medication:

  • Turn your head away from the inhaler and breathe out.
  • Place the mouthpiece between your lips and inhale deeply and forcefully. This is one dose.
  • Take the number of doses as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Rinse the mouth with water. Do not swallow.

 

Asthma In Children