Many people with asthma or emphysema could be taking their inhaled medicines incorrectly, researchers say.
When they asked 100 adults hospitalized for asthma or a lung disease like emphysema to show how they used their inhalers at home, most made some type of mistake.
Fortunately, it wasn’t hard for them to learn the correct methods.
Overall, patients misused metered-dose inhalers nearly nine out of 10 times, and Diskus inhalers seven out of 10 times, the researchers report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Both types of inhalers deliver medication directly to the airways. Diskus inhalers are used mainly for “controller” medications — the ones patients take regularly to keep asthma or other lung disease symptoms under control. Metered-dose inhalers can be used for controller or “rescue” medications, which patients take during severe episodes of breathlessness and other symptoms.
The two types of inhalers work by different mechanisms, and require different steps to deliver the medication to the lungs.
So for people who use both — which is quite common — the ins-and-outs of correct use can be particularly tricky, said lead researcher Dr. Valerie G. Press of the University of Chicago. With metered-dose inhalers, people have to inhale slowly, for example, while the Diskus device requires a sharp inhalation.
“Respiratory inhalers require multiple coordinated steps,” Press told Reuters Health. “They are not just point-and-shoot.”
Ideally, people who use inhalers should bring them to their doctor appointments and demonstrate how they use the devices at home, Press noted. But in reality, that may not happen