An inhaler is a medical device which helps to deliver a measured dose of medication to the lungs of the person using it. Inhaler technique is just the term used to describe the process of using the inhaler to ensure that the correct dose of medication reaches the airways.
Shockingly 60% of the 470,000 people in Ireland with asthma do not have their condition under control. Children with asthma will miss approximately ten days more school a year when compared to their asthma free friends. Another scary statistic is that one person dies each week from asthma and 90% of these deaths are preventable. If correcting poor inhaler technique can contribute to saving lives then it’s not something to be dismissed or taken lightly. As parents we have the chance to ensure that our children are receiving the best treatment they can by showing them how to use their inhaler and also how to try and make it fun! Right well lets get to it!
A spacer for a baby looks like this and consists of a chamber into which the MDI (metered dose inhaler) slots, and a mask or mouthpiece depending on your childs age. A spacer for a baby or young infant is also known as a babyhaler. These are easy to clean, just soak in warm soapy water once a week and leave to air dry. There is a larger version of a spacer available which has a mouth piece and older children can be transitioned to using this when they no longer need a mask. However toddlers and children often struggle to form a seal around the mouth piece and so can be transitioned using aerochamber devices suitable for older children.
The Aerochamber comes with a small mask for children age 0-18 months (orange) or a medium mask (Yellow) for children age 1-5 years. It is also available with a larger mask (blue) for older children age 5 years plus. These devices need to be washed once a week and can either be put on top shelf of dishwasher (handy!!) or soaked in luke warm soapy water for 15 mins.
Top tips for using a Spacer or Aerochamber Device!
- After using a brown or orange inhaler, also known as a preventer or steroid inhaler, always wipe the area around your child’s mouth if you have used a mask to give the dose. This is because the medicine in these inhalers can cause skin irritation if your don’t and lets face it, nobody wants that!
- If your child has used a steroid inhaler (brown or orange generally) with a mouthpiece or mask encourage them to take a drink of water to rinse out their mouth to prevent oral irritation.
- Try to be relaxed when giving your child medication, well at least try to look or appear relaxed!! You’re body language and attitude can pass straight on to your little one and cause them to be concerned about what is about to happen! And the oscar goes to……!!
- Let your child hold and play with the spacer or aerochamber when you are not using it to give medicine as this will help them to become less threatened by it! I’ve heard many great parents tell tales of rocket ships which come to the rescue of chesty coughs and wheezy breath!
- Let your child pretend to give medicine to their teddies and dolls – empowering them to show their teddies how it’s done gives your budding star a chance to shine and use their imaginations as a great distraction! Don’t forget to let them create a reward chart for their bears and let them give stickers for good inhaler use just as they receive themselves!
- When you can try to give medicine when your child is in good form and happy as the chances of them cooperating are a lot higher! Not always possible though!
- For the Aerochamber “Press the MDI at the beginning of a slow inhalation as the Flow-Vu® Inspiratory Flow Indicator moves toward the patient. Use the Flow-Vu® Inspiratory Flow Indicator to count breaths. Maintain seal for 5-6 breaths after the MDI is pressed. Administer 1 puff at a time. “
- The directions for your inhaler are usually found on the label placed on the box from the Pharmacy where you buy it – It’s worth making sure all of the adults know how many puffs of each inhaler should be given and when before the box is discarded! My Medication Record Chart can be a useful tool to make sure everyone is on the same page and doses are being recorded! Here is the link to download the FREE chart – https://www.wonderbaba.ie/blog/wonderbaba-medication-record/
- The Asthma Society of Ireland have some amazing videos guiding you on inhaler technique which are worth checking out. It’s an excellent help when you or your child are first prescribed an inhaler and even as a refresher just to make sure your technique has remained efficient as time passes by- click here to view!
The Babyhaler Device and Aerochamber range are available to purchase by clicking here for our Asthma Section!
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.