Medications taken via inhalation devices are often included in the medicine regimen for COPD. If you have this condition, your doctor may have prescribed you an inhaled medication that you have to take regularly or only during flare-ups.
Among the keys to effective inhalation therapy are the proper use and care of your inhalation device. Whether it’s a metered-dose inhaler or a breath-activated inhaler, it’s important to know how to properly use and care for your inhalation device.
Here are the two common types of inhalation devices and tips on their proper use and care.
Pressurized metered dose inhalers
Also known as MDI’s, this type consists of different kinds. Among them, the most common is the standard MDI, which releases a dose of medicine when the top is pressed.
Proper use of this includes the following steps:
1. Shake the inhaler before using it. This helps loosen up the powder
2. Breathe out, then place the inhaler into your mouth between your teeth. Then, close your lips around it.
3. Breathe in more slowly than usual, then press the top of the inhaler to release the dose you need. Make sure that you breathe in deeply at the same time.
4. Remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for a while after breathing in (around 8-10 seconds). This ensures that the medication gets to your lungs. You can now breathe out normally.
These inhalers are similar to metered dose inhalers since the released powder is measured out per dose. The difference is that there’s no need to press the device to trigger the release. You only need to breathe in deeply at the mouthpiece, and this activates the release of medication.
Depending on the brand of your medication, the inhaler device may be called a different name. Some examples are the turbohaler, accuhaler, easyhaler, diskhaler, clickhaler and novolizer. These are all breath-activated inhalers and essentially work the same way.
For proper use of these devices, these are the steps:
1. Ensure that the mouthpiece is uncovered upon breathing in.
2. Place the mouthpiece and completely cover the hole with your lips.
3. Breathe in deeply (more deeply than usual) through your mouth to activate the powder’s release.
4. Hold your breath for a few seconds for the medication to reach your lungs.
Proper care of metered-dose inhalers and breath-activated inhalers
As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to care for your inhaler the right way to ensure that you get effective treatment from the medication. Anything that affects the drug inside the device or how the device works can result in ineffective therapy.
The following are some tips you can follow to keep your inhaler devices in tiptop shape.
· When the inhaler is not in use, make sure that the cap is on. This prevents any unnecessary release of medication.
· Before use, always check that the hole where the powder is released is clear and not plugged up.
· After using the inhaler, wipe off any excess powder in and around the mouthpiece using a clean tissue or cloth.
· Always store the device and inhalation medications at room temperature in a dry place. Avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold). This may affect the medication and its release.
· If the inhaler gets too cold, warm it with your hands. Do not expose to heat sources!
· Always check for the expiry date of the medication.
· Keep track of the number of doses you need. After every puff or use, writing down the number of doses or puffs you’ve used will help you keep better track.
· Know when the device has to be refilled or replaced. A good tip is to note the date when the device was first used or refilled. After your first few cycles of use, you’ll know when to expect the doses to run out.
· If the MDI feels unusually light and does not make a sound when shaken, chances are it needs either refilling or replacement.
· Always store the device in an area easily accessible to you, as this will be helpful in emergency cases. Make sure though, that it is out of children’s reach.
We hope that these tips help you with using and caring for your inhaler devices better!