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Mastering HFA Inhalers – Step-by-Step Instructions
On March 19, 2009 @ 1:55 pm In All Articles,Devices
Metered-dose inhalers are more complicated than swallowing a pill – but, if used properly, they put the medication right where it is needed and can go to work quickly: the airways of the lungs
Contrary to popular belief, it’s your correct inhalation, not the force of the propellant, that moves the medication past your mouth and throat into your airways. Proper technique is important. You’ve got to inhale the spray before it has a chance to land on your tongue or inside your cheek, yet slowly enough to get the medication deep into your lungs.
“It’s like driving a car,” explains Ben Francisco, PhD, PNP, AE-C, University of Missouri IMPACT Asthma Outreach and Development office. “If you leave here at 100 miles an hour, you’re going to go off the road at the first major turn – you can’t get around it. And if you take a very fast breath with your inhaler, the medication will slam into the wall of your airway at the first big curve, instead of travelling down into the lungs.”
MDI Practice Session
Check your inhalation technique. Read through the step-by-step instructions. Then try it yourself.
The Final Steps
Even the most perfectly timed inhalation won’t do you any good if there’s no medicine left in the inhaler. Keep track to know for sure, because MDIs will still feel like there’s something inside (if you shake it, for instance) or even emit a spray long after the active medication has been used up. A few devices (Advair® HFA, Flovent® HFA, Symbicort® and Ventolin® HFA) now offer built-in counters and more are in development. If yours doesn’t have one, develop a system of your own. Use a calendar for daily medications; simply mark the canister when you first open it with the current date, then figure how many days it will last, according to how many doses you take per day.
With medications like bronchodilators that you take only when you need them – when symptoms flare or you get a cold, for instance, or before exercise – you must keep track as you go. AANMA’s AsthmaTracker® daily diary system offers a perfect solution – just post it in a notebook or on a bulletin board, then fill it out each day before you go to bed, marking down when you used your inhaler and how many doses you used. Don’t forget your priming sprays – they count, too. The AsthmaTracker® can also help you keep track of when you last used your inhaler and whether it needs to be primed before using again. To order your own, call AANMA at 800.878.4403.
Article printed from Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics: http://www.aanma.org
URL to article: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/mastering-hfa-inhalers-%e2%80%93-step-by-step-instructions/
URLs in this post:
 Maximize the Mist – Keep Inhalers Clean, Primed and Ready: http://www.aanma.org/2009/02/maximize-the-mist-keep-inhalers-clean-primed-and-ready/
 Holding Chambers and Spacers: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/holding-chambers-and-spacers/
 Nebulizer Basics: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/nebulizer-basics/
 Nebulizers – When Only the Mist Will Do …: http://www.aanma.org/2009/06/nebulizers-mis/
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