Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways of the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, making breathing in – or out–difficult and frightening. Asthma can be managed by recognizing triggers such as allergies or stressful situations, and most often is managed by the use of inhalers.
There are two types of inhalers – those that help you manage your symptoms and are taken usually daily; and rescue inhalers – those you reach for when you are having or sense an attack or flare-up coming on.
Whether managing symptoms or subduing an attack, inhalers are used the same way. If your doctor has prescribed inhalers to manage or control your asthma, here are some helpful tips to ensure you are maximizing the efficacy of every puff you take.
Take Deep Breath
When using your inhaler, it is important to make your lungs work for you. After wiping the mouthpiece clean of any residue from previous puffs, gently shake your inhaler. As best you can, take a few “cleansing” breaths, trying hard to maximize the air capacity in your lungs, then expelling the air until your lungs feel empty. After a large inhale and exhale, and your lungs are void of air, stand or sit up straight; don’t look down or slouch. Bring the inhaler to your mouth and wrap your lips around the opening. Holding the inhaler at the top with your pointer finger and bottom with your thumb, gently press on the pump. This will spray the medication through your mouth. Quickly draw in the medication, filling your mouth with the medicated air and securing it in your lungs for as long as you can. (If you are using a rescue inhaler, you should quickly start to feel relief). Don’t exhale until you are ready, and when you are ready, breathe out slowly. The longer you are able to keep the medicated air in your lungs, the more evenly and effectively the medication can be dispersed.
As Needed, vs., Take as Prescribed
You may notice that some inhalers have counters that keep track of how many puffs you have used and how many more you have to go. Keep track of that so you can get your refills before you run out. Check the prescribed dosages on the package before using. Most maintenance inhalers are taken once or twice daily, while rescue inhalers will be taken “as needed.”
By the way, not all inhalers are simply “squeeze and breathe.” Some maintenance inhalers require capsules that are placed into the inhaler, then crushed with the pumping motion to release the meds. Other prescriptions require refrigeration. One last thing: always be sure to rinse your mouth out after each puff. Again, rinse and do not brush, as brushing grinds the meds into your teeth and not rinsing could result in an oral yeast infection called “thrush.”
If you are experiencing asthmatic symptoms, the most important thing to do is to seek medical attention. The issue could be life-threatening if not properly medicated or cared for. Talk to your primary care doctor about the possibility of getting a rescue inhaler or another breathing medication similar to a nebulizer machine and keep that inhaler at the ready at all times.
Do you or a loved one have asthma? Intercoastal Medical Group wants to help you breathe easy by helping you get your asthma under control and learning how to manage it with ease. Intercoastal physician Matthew Aresery, MD, specializes in Allergy/Immunology/Asthma and can help you manage your asthma. He is located at the Intercoastal Lakewood Ranch I Medical Building, 11505 Rangeland Parkway, Bradenton, FL 34211 (941) 362-8640. Schedule an appointment with us today!