Teamwork between patients and providers is key to proper use of inhalers

Teamwork between patients and providers is key to proper use of inhalers

(BPT) – Fifteen million people in the United States have been told by a healthcare provider that they have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and more than 50 percent of these patients use at least one medication delivered by an inhaler every day.

Research has shown that people who regularly use inhalers feel confident with their inhaler technique. However, a surprising number of people who regularly use respiratory inhalers to treat their COPD make a mistake when using their device.

Some common inhaler errors include:

* Not exhaling prior to delivering the puff of medication in order to empty out the lungs as much as possible

* Not shaking the inhaler before taking the medication for inhalers that need to be shaken before use, or mistakenly shaking an inhaler that doesn’t need to be

* Inhaling/exhaling too rapidly or slowly

Improving proper inhaler use involves effort from both the patient and the healthcare provider. Appropriate training and regular checking of inhalation technique can help promote delivery of the medication. Pharmacists and physicians are both resources for assessing and showing proper inhaler technique.

“There are several different types of inhalers that require different procedures, which can make learning proper use of an inhaler confusing,” says Donald A. Mahler, MD, emeritus professor of medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “COPD can be treated – but it’s critically important that people understand exactly how to use their COPD inhaler. Improper administration can reduce effective delivery of the medicine inside the inhaler.”

“Everyone has their own skills and preferences, and fortunately, there are several treatment and inhaler options available. Healthcare providers and patients have the option of selecting a medication based on their individual needs and preferences,” Dr. Mahler adds.

People with COPD and their caregivers should talk to their pharmacist, nurse or doctor about inhaler options and education – regardless of whether they’ve been using the device for a month or many years. Since inhalers are different, inhaler-specific step-by-step tutorials can promote proper inhaler use.

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