Tips for children using inhaler

Pranab Kumar Chowdhury | Update:

The tiny respiratory tracts of an asthma patient’s lung get narrowed leading to difficulty in breathing. The air tracts expand fast if the medicine is applied directly to the respiratory tract. For this reason, taking medicine through inhaler is the safest and most reliable method. But, the effectiveness is reduced if not used properly. The problem is prevalent in children, as they cannot often use inhalers properly.

Proper method for using inhaler:
1. Shake the inhaler properly
2. Remove the cap and place the inhaler upright 1-2 inches ahead of your mouth.
3. Tilt your head back a little and slowly breathe out all the air from lung.
4. Press the inhaler and breathe the medicine slowly in. After taking the medicine hold your breath for 10 seconds.
5. Take a one-minute pause between several puffs.
6. Clean the inhaler mouthpiece once after taking and replace the cap.
It is a wrong assumption that other medicines do not work properly once you start using inhaler.

You can measure the amount of medicine in the canister. Take the canister out of the inhaler and place it in a container of water. The part of the canister sunk below the water level marks the level of medicine and if it floats above the water it would be empty.

The spacer is an empty tube. The inhaler is set at one end of the inhaler and the medicine is taken in from the other end. The spacer contains the medicine for a specific time. It allows the patient to breathe the medicine in with deep breaths, and slowly. It is better for children.

Rules for using spacer:
1. Shake the inhaler first.
2. Place the inhaler to the slot of the spacer.
3. Press the inhaler once to let the medicine enter the empty space of the spacer•
4. Breathe slowly in the medicine placing your mouth at the other end. The medicine can be taken within 30 seconds once the medicine is inside the spacer. No need to hurry.
5. Hold your breath for 5-10 seconds and breathe in twice or thrice. The spacer should be cleaned with a piece of cotton cloth after each use.
Many children get frightened once the spacer is placed on mouth. Funny stickers can be glued on the spacer and inhaler to appear attractive. Placing the accessories among the toys could be a fun way along with acting games to ease the children.

*Pranab Kumar Chowdhury is the head of pediatrics at Chittagong Medical College Hospital.

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