Self-help: Taking Inhaled Asthma Drugs

Drugs to prevent or treat asthma are often inhaled. Inhaled drugs reach the lungs quickly and have few side effects because only a small amount of drug enters the circulation. A metered-dose inhaler delivers a precise dose when the inhaler is pressed. A spacer can be used to hold the dose before it is inhaled. For treatment of a severe asthma attack, a nebulizer, which enables the delivery of large drug doses, may be used. Different devices are available for children (see Giving inhaled drugs to children).

Using an inhaler

Place the inhaler in front of the lips or in the mouth. Press the inhaler while breathing in deeply at the same time. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, then breathe out. Spacers allow the drug to be inhaled over several breaths.

Using a nebulizer

A nebulizer creates a fine mist of drugs by forcing compressed air or oxygen through a liquid dose of the drug. The drug in mist form is then inhaled, through either a mouthpiece or a face mask.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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