If you suffer from asthma, using a metered dose inhaler will help you stay on top form. To get the most out of your medication, however, you need to maximise the amount of medication that gets deep into your lungs.
Contrary to popular perception, this means holding the inhaler opening a couple of centimetres away from your month and not closing your lips around the mouthpiece. This will allow bigger drops from the inhaler to break up into smaller drops that are more likely to penetrate the narrow branches of your lungs.
To get the most out of your inhaler:
Press down on the inhaler to release a puff as you start to breathe in slowly;
Inhale the medication for three to five seconds;
Hold your breath for up to ten seconds.
Use a spacer device (a small plastic mask that fits over your mouth). Ask your doctor how to use your inhaler correctly and make sure you know how often you should use the medication.
(Reviewed and updated May 2011, medical editor.)
Why an inhaler? What about a tablet or syrup?
National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)