Five Top Tips To Help Your Child Get The Best From Their Inhaler
1. Check your childs inhaler and spacer/facemask technique
Helping your child use an inhaler and spacer/facemask might feel a bit daunting at first, especially if you dont know anyone close to you with asthma.
A major report into asthma deaths in the UK found that 22% of people in the study had not been using their inhaler correctly. Getting your childs inhaler and spacer/facemask technique checked regularly is one of the most important things you can do to help your child stay well with their asthma.
Even if theyve been using an inhaler for a while, its easy to slip into bad habits. Just a simple tweak might make a big difference to how much of the asthma medicine gets down into your childs lungs where its needed to help prevent asthma symptoms and cut the risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, and of side-effects.
Its crucial to:
- Get your childs inhaler and spacer/facemask technique checked whenever theyre given a new asthma medicine or new type of inhaler, spacer or facemask
- Ask your GP or asthma nurse to check your childs inhaler and spacer/facemask technique at their asthma review every year.
You can also:
- Watch our useful inhaler technique videos in between appointments
- Ask a pharmacist to check your childs inhaler technique when you next pick up your childs asthma medicines
- Check out the useful tips below for helping babies, young children and older children use their inhalers.
4. Get into a good routine with your childs asthma medicines
How To Cope With Side Effects Of Salbutamol Inhalers
What to do about:
- feeling shaky â see if your asthma or COPD symptoms get better with just 1 puff of your inhaler rather than 2. If you find you need 2 puffs for symptom relief, be reassured that the shakiness will wear off after a short time.
- faster heartbeat for a short while â make sure you are not taking more than the prescribed dose. If this happens regularly, talk to your doctor or nurse as you may need your treatment reviewed so that you do not need to use your salbutamol as often.
- headaches â make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking salbutamol. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.
- muscle cramps â if you get unusual muscle ache, which is not from exercise or hard work, talk to your doctor.
When Do You Use Your Reliever Inhaler
You only use your reliever inhaler if you get symptoms. Its for quick relief when symptoms come on or when you have an asthma attack.
Your will remind you what symptoms to look out for, and when you need to use your reliever inhaler.
See your GP or asthma nurse if:
you’re using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week. It’s a sign your asthma is not well controlled.
Using your reliever before exercise
For most people good asthma control, using a regular preventer inhaler, is the best way to stop exercise triggering their symptoms.
A few people whose asthma is triggered by exercise may be told to use their reliever inhaler before they start exercising. For some people this can help stop symptoms coming on. But its important not to rely on your reliever to be able to exercise.
Always see your GP if youve noticed that exercise triggers your asthma symptoms. They can check if you need to improve your asthma preventer treatment.
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If Your Asthma Is Not Controlled Using Only Inhaled Corticosteroids Your Doctor May Add On Another Controller Medication Other Controller Also Need To Be Taken Regularly These Include:
Combined inhalers: corticosteroids and Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
Doctors usually prescribe an inhaler that has a combined medicine of Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists and corticosteroid and is for people whose asthma is not controlled by their usual medicine. Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists are inhaled medicines help the airways relax, allowing more air to pass through. They have to be used in combination with an corticosteroid. A combined inhaler ensures you get both.
Examples of combination asthma medicines:
- Advair®: Made of a corticosteroid plus a Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
- Breo®: Made of corticosteroid plus a Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
- Symbicort®: Made of a corticosteroid plus a Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
- Zenhale®: Made of a corticosteroid plus a Long-Acting Beta2-Agonists
Every Day: Control Inhaler
These inhalers help prevent flares and keep symptoms from getting worse. They’re called control inhalers because they have medicine that controls inflammation.
Use yours as often as your doctor tells you to, usually once or twice a day:
- Whether or not you’re having symptoms
- Even if you feel like you’re doing better
If you’re supposed to use it two times a day, aim for 12 hours apart.
When you begin using this kind of inhaler, it may be 2 to 4 weeks before you notice the drugs start to work.
Read Also: Asthma Exacerbations
If You Have Asthma Your Healthcare Team Will:
- Explain how you can keep your asthma under control by avoiding your personal triggers
- Prescribe medication that will help minimize your symptoms
- Show you how to take your medication properly, checking your inhaler technique
- Work with you so you have a written Asthma Action Plan
- Recommend that you visit on a regular basis so that your symptoms can be monitored and your treatments adjusted if necessary
Hear What Schools Have To Say
“We recently installed the Asthma Pump unit in our school office and it has proved amazingly useful. The children are able to go straight to their pump without having to resort to rummaging in a drawer which makes them feel a lot calmer. It is also very easy for the office staff to keep track of the inhalers we have in school – I would highly recommend the Asthma Pump point to other schools”
Cheam Park Farm Junior School
“We have used our Pump Point to have a spare inhaler in the school first aid room to work alongside the classroom based inhaler.”
Burton upon Stather Primary School
“We had our asthma Pump Point put in about a month ago & already it has proven it’s worth! Three students have already benefited by being able to use their Inhalers when i have not been around! Also Students who have an inhaler but have never had one in school, have seen the Pump Point & have brought a spare in to be kept in school. Those student otherwise would not have had access to an inhaler otherwise!!”
All Saints Academy, Plymouth
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Helping Your Older Child
As your child gets older, it makes sense for them to continue to use a spacer because:
- Spacers make inhalers easier to use and more effective they hold the medicine inside them so your child doesn’t have to worry about pressing the inhaler and breathing in at exactly the same time.
- Spacers help to prevent possible side-effects, such as thrush and a sore throat.
The boys both still use a spacer because they cant grasp the proper breathing technique yet. I watch them taking their preventer inhaler every morning and evening. Shakeela, mum to Salis, 11, and Sami, 6
Taking our preventer inhalers is part of the routine of life in our house. The boys dont make a fuss about taking them because they both remember what its like to get asthma symptoms and understand that the medicine helps to prevent them feeling bad. Anna, mum to Gabriel, 10, and Beau, 5
Next review due May 2022
Follow These Steps Every Time You Use Ventolin Hfa
Step 1. Make sure the metal canister fits firmly in the plastic actuator. The counter should show through the window in the actuator.To take the cap off the mouthpiece, squeeze the sides of the cap and pull out.Look inside the mouthpiece for foreign objects and take out any you see.
Step 2. Hold the inhaler with the mouthpiece down and shake it well. See Figure E.
Step 3. Breathe out through your mouth and push as much air from your lungs as you can. See Figure F.
Step 4. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it. Push the top of the metal canister firmly all the way down while you breathe in deeply and slowly through your mouth. See Figure G.
Step 5. After the spray comes out, take your finger off the metal canister. After you have breathed in all the way, take the inhaler out of your mouth and close your mouth.
Step 6. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds, or for as long as is comfortable. Breathe out slowly as long as you can.
If your healthcare provider has told you to use more sprays, wait 1 minute and shake the inhaler again. Repeat Steps 2 through Step 6.
Put the cap back on the mouthpiece after you finish using the inhaler. Make sure it snaps firmly into place.
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The Standard Mdi Inhaler
A standard MDI is shown above. The MDI has been used for over 40 years and is used to deliver various types and brands of medicines. It contains a pressurised inactive gas that propels a dose of medicine in each ‘puff’. Each dose is released by pressing the top of the inhaler. This type of inhaler is quick to use, small, and convenient to carry. It needs good co-ordination to press the canister and breathe in fully at the same time. Sometimes these are known as evohalers .
The standard MDI is the most widely used inhaler. However, many people do not use it to its best effect. Common errors include:
- Not shaking the inhaler before using it.
- Inhaling too sharply or at the wrong time.
- Not holding your breath long enough after breathing in the contents.
Until recently, the propellant gas in MDI inhalers has been a chlorofluorocarbon . However, CFCs damage the Earth’s ozone layer and so are being phased out. The newer CFC-free inhalers work just as well, but they use a different propellant gas that does not damage the ozone layer.
Using The Right Inhaler And Spacer / Facemask Technique Means Your Child Gets The Best From Their Asthma Medicines
The most common asthma medicines come inside inhalers designed to take the medicines straight to your childs lungs and airways.
Did you know? Using the right inhaler and spacer/facemask technique cuts your childs risk of:
- Asthma symptoms
- A potentially life-threatening asthma attack
- Side-effects from their preventer inhaler, such as a sore throat or oral thrush. This is because more medicine gets down into the lungs where its needed rather than staying in their mouth or hitting the back of their throat where its no help at all.
If you feel confident about your childs inhaler and spacer/facemask technique, you can help them feel more confident too.
Watch our videos showing how to help your child use their inhaler.
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How And When To Use Your Inhaler
Only use your salbutamol when you need it. This may be when you notice symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest or you know that you are going to do an activity that can make you breathless, for example climbing stairs or sport. You should feel a difference to your breathing within a few minutes.
The normal way for adults and children to use their inhaler is:
- 1 or 2 puffs of salbutamol when you need it
- up to a maximum of 4 times in 24 hours
Salbutamol is sometimes prescribed to prevent breathing symptoms happening in the first place. This could be before a trigger such as exercise or exposure to pets. In this situation, the normal dose is still 1 or 2 puffs at a time.
If you need to use your inhaler more than 4 times in 24 hours:
- it may mean that your health problem is getting worse and that you need different treatment
- you are more likely to get side effects such as increased heart rate, jitteriness, nervousness and headaches
Make an appointment to see your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you need to use your inhaler:
- more than 4 times in 24 hours
- more than 2 days of each week
- in the middle of the night at least once a week
How To Use An Inhaler With A Spacer And Mouthpiece
Learning how to properly use an inhaler with a spacer and mouthpiece for asthma ensures the medicine gets deposited into the lungs. Incorrect technique can leave some of the particles from the medicine on your tongue or throat, where it is useless. Inhalers spray the medicine out so that you can breathe it deep into the lungs. A spacer, or holding chamber, is an attachment that should always be used with your inhaler. The spacer holds the medicine in place so you can breathe it in easier. If you have any further questions about inhalers, spacers or mouthpieces contact your doctor’s office, asthma care team or pharmacy.
Read Also: How To Make A Homemade Inhaler For Asthma
Are There Any Side Effects
Reliever inhalers are a safe and essential treatment for asthma symptoms when they suddenly flare up. They have very few side effects.
Some people notice that they feel a bit shaky or their heart beats faster than normal.
Youre more likely to notice these side effects if you have needed to use more puffs than recommended of your reliever inhaler. They’ll usually pass quickly and are not dangerous. See your GP or asthma nurse if youre worried.
The best way to avoid side effects is to have a regular asthma review. This means your GP or asthma nurse can make sure youre doing all you can to prevent asthma symptoms, like taking your preventer inhaler regularly as prescribed.
Your preventer inhaler works away in the background to prevent symptoms from coming on in the first place. If you use it every day, even when youre well, you won’t need to use your reliever inhaler so much.
Knowing Your Asthma Action Plan Is Step One
For most people with asthma, managing the chronic condition involves a multi-pronged approach tailored to your symptoms and lifestyle.
Step one for everyone, however, is having a firm grasp of your asthma action plan.
Work with your doctor to create an asthma action plan that covers how to:
- Take your medication properly
- Quit smoking, if you do
In addition, monitor your symptoms carefully. Keep track of what they are, when they occur, and their severity.
Journal of Asthma and Allergy,
- In cold, dry air
- In environments with airborne irritants, such as cigarette smoke
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How Do Inhalers Work
Millions of us use inhalers in the UK. For some, they’re a lifesaver. For others, they provide welcome relief. For others still, they’re more of a security blanket to be carried around in the bottom of the handbag just in case.
Reviewed byDr Hayley Willacy
17-Apr-18·5 mins read
Inhalers deliver medicine you need straight to your lungs. It goes without saying then, that they’re used for conditions which affect your lungs, of which by far the most common are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
Because the medicine goes straight to where it’s needed, you only need tiny amounts compared to the dose you’d need to take of the same medicine in tablet form. That means fewer side effects and more effective treatment – as long as you take them properly.
What Is An Inhaler And How Does It Work
Inhalers are the most common device for taking medications for asthma. There are a few different types of inhalers, and well go through each of them in this guide. Using your inhaler properly ensures the medication is delivered where it is needed the lungs. Other devices, like spacers and nebulizers, can also help.
Read Also: Steroid-dependent Asthma
Feel Confident About Your Childs Inhalers
If your child is going through a trial of treatment because they have suspected asthma, is newly diagnosed with asthma, has recently been given a new type of inhaler or has been taking the same asthma medicines for ages, its really important that you, and your child if theyre old enough, understand what inhalers your child needs to take, when they need to take them and why. If they do, they can get the full dose of their asthma medicines and stay well. Getting the full dose is important because it cuts your childs risk of:
- asthma symptoms
- a potentially life-threatening asthma attack
What you need to know:
- There are lots of different types of inhalers and spacers that work in different ways.
- Most children with asthma are prescribed the two main types of asthma inhaler a daily preventer inhaler to help protect their airways and cut the chance of triggers causing asthma symptoms and a reliever inhaler to use if they get symptoms.
- Most children with asthma are also given a spacer or facemask to use with their inhaler. You can read more about using spacers and facemasks here.
Your childs GP, asthma nurse or respiratory consultant will explain which type of inhaler they need and why, and exactly when they need to take them. If you have any questions or worries about your childs medicines, you can:
Reliever Inhaler Top Tips
Keep your reliever inhaler somewhere you can get to it easily and quickly if you need it. And tell friends and family where you keep it in case you have an asthma attack.
Always carry your reliever inhaler with you when you go out. Ask your GP to prescribe you an extra reliever inhaler as a spare for work or the car.
Check the expiry date. Even if you havent used all the medicine in your inhaler, you should replace your reliever inhaler with a new one if it has passed the expiry date. This is usually six months after opening it. You can find the expiry date on the bottom of the box, or on the side of the canister.
Always keep the cap on your reliever inhaler when youre not using it. Small objects could get stuck in the mouthpiece if you dont put the cap on, especially if you carry your inhaler in your bag. This is dangerous because you could end up inhaling them when you next come to use your inhaler.
Store your reliever inhaler at the right temperature. Extreme temperatures and high altitudes can affect the medicine in your reliever inhaler. Check the label on your inhaler for storage instructions or speak to your GP or asthma nurse for advice.
Check theres enough medicine left in your reliever inhaler, especially when youre going away on holiday, or over Christmas and other holiday periods when your GP surgery is closed. Some inhalers have indicators on the side to tell you how much medicine is left.
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