Get The Maximum Benefit From Your Inhaler With These 3 Tips
Inhaled medications are a very effective way to treat asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems. However, your inhaler is only as effective as the way that you use it. Used incorrectly, the medicine ends up clinging to the back of your mouth and throat, and not in your lungs where it belongs. Take a look at some simple tips that will help you get the biggest benefit from using your inhaler.
Keep It Clean
Do you see powder in or around the hole where the medicine sprays out of the inhaler? This is what is left behind as the medicine dries, and if the inhaler becomes clogged, it will block the release of medicine from the inhaler, so you'll get less of it. Cleaning your inhaler can keep the medicine flowing smoothly, but many people don't realize that they need to clean it.
Cleaning your inhaler is easy. Remove the metal canister first – that's where the medicine is, so you don't want to lose it. Put it someplace safe. Then simply rinse the plastic mouthpiece and cap in warm, clean water. Let them air dry for a few hours or overnight. Then replace the metal canister and you're good to go.
Use a Spacer
A spacer is a device that attaches to the inhaler and traps the medicine temporarily after you push down on the dispenser. This allows you to inhale more slowly and draw more than one breath, which can dramatically decrease the chances of the medicine getting caught in the back of your mouth instead of in your lungs.
You'll need to talk to your doctor about getting a spacer – typically, you need a prescription for them, as they're considered a medical device. The good news is that in many cases, they're covered by your health insurance policy. While it's less effective, you can create a makeshift spacer in a pinch using a piece of paper rolled into a tube about one inch in diameter. While it won't be as effective as a prescription spacer with a valved chamber, it can give you a little more time to inhale and increase your inhaler's effectiveness.
Know When Your Inhaler Is Empty
With most medications, it's obvious when you run out – you have an empty bottle to show for it. With inhaled medications, though, it's harder to tell. Some propellant will remain in the canister even when the medicine is gone, and the inhaler will continue to spray.
Some types of inhalers have dose counters that will give you an accurate count of what's left in the inhaler – ask your doctor if one of those inhalers is available for your prescription. Otherwise, take a look at the package insert to find out how many puffs are contained in the canister. Divide the amount of puffs in the canister by the amount of puffs you use in a week. For example, if the canister has 200 puffs and you use 10 a week, your canister should last about 20 weeks, or five months. Write the date that you opened the canister on the metal canister in marker so you remember. Try to refill your prescription a few weeks before its due.
Make sure to discuss any problems you have with your inhaler with your doctor. Your physician will be able to help ensure that you have the correct inhaler for you, such as Aerospan RX, and that you're using the right technique to get the medicine that you need.