Improper use of inhalers can lead to complications

Nearly six-and-a-half million children in the United States suffer from asthma. Most use an inhaler to help keep their airways open. But experts say most children make mistakes when using an inhaler. They say using an inhaler improperly can dramatically affect how well the medication works.

"We see children who just don't know how to use it at all, and so they take breaths in a totally different way that doesn't help get it into the lungs, which is where the medicine needs to go," said Dr. B.J. Lanser of National Jewish Health.

Dr. Lanser says most children he sees use inhalers incorrectly.  He says the biggest mistake is not using a spacer. Without it about 80 percent of the medicine settles in the mouth and never gets into the lungs. Dr. Lanser also says many children don't realize that exhaling is just as important as inhaling.

Other common mistakes involve how the inhaler is positioned.  Dr. Lanser says kids should stand up straight when using inhalers with their head in a neutral position -not tipped back. Aim the inhaler at the back of the throat and close the lips tightly around the mouthpiece to keep medication from escaping.


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