A US study that’s the first of its kind to look at inhaler technique in children and adolescents – the group considered the most at risk for complications and death from asthma – found that almost half the participants made mistakes when using their inhalers, which means that they didn’t get their full dose of asthma medication. Adolescents were found to be the most likely to make these mistakes and often skipped using spacers with their inhalers — devices that help deliver the medicine to their lungs. The study was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
Researchers gathered 113 asthmatic children aged two to 16 and found that for 42 per cent of the participants, their inhaler-use technique missed at least one vital step. 18 per cent these participants (mostly from among the older ones in the group) didn’t use a spacer with their inhaler.
The author of the study, Dr. Waheeda Samedy, a hospitalist at the Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that the study shows that older children who are beginning to be more independent when using their inhalers might still need to be supervised.
Dr Samedy says that asthma is manageable for most people if they use their inhaler correctly, but if they don’t, they’re more likely to have uncontrolled asthma and to be admitted to hospital for it. She also says that spacers aren’t just for children and are even recommended for adults. In fact, past studies have shown that adding them to inhalers increases the amount of medication getting to the lungs from a meagre 34 to a robust 83 per cent.
A full life with asthma is definitely achievable, says Dr Samedy, but for that to happen, proper management of the condition is key, which is why she believes that public awareness of correct inhaler techniques is crucial.
Written by: Tesneem Ayoub
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