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How to Help Your Children Use Their Asthma Inhaler

How to Help Your Children Use Their Asthma Inhaler

Many kids don’t know how to use their inhaler correctly. Here’s how you can help.

After watching her gravity-defying performances, it’s hard to believe pop music star Pink, has struggled with respiratory problems and asthma since childhood. Ironically, you could even say Pink owes her career to asthma: she took voice lessons early on to help her breathing.

Pink also owes her lung power to lifesaving medications that provide long-term asthma control. These drugs are usually delivered through an inhaler. The first-ever study to evaluate inhaler technique in children ages 2 to 16 who were hospitalized for asthma found 18 percent didn’t use a spacer with their inhaler. (A spacer is a plastic tube attached to the inhaler that helps a child take in the medication completely.) And 42 percent had faulty inhaler technique.

These inhaler snafus up the risk of an asthma attack and can put a kid’s life in danger. So, if your child has asthma . . .

  1. Use a peak flow meter to measure lung function weekly.
  2. Have your child use a spacer with the inhaler. It’s essential for any kid age six or younger and for all children taking inhaled glucocorticoids or who have problems coordinating proper inhaler technique.
  3. Have your asthma doctor go over the best method (with or without a spacer) with you and your child. When not using a spacer, your child should follows these steps: Shake the inhaler five times to mix medication with propellant; exhale; put lips around mouthpiece; begin inhaling and then push canister to activate; breathe in deeply; remove inhaler from mouth. Hold breath for count of 10. Done!

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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