Many children with asthma don't use their inhalers properly and don't get a full dose of medicine, researchers report.
They evaluated inhaler use among 113 children between the ages of 2 and 16 who were hospitalized for asthma. Such patients are at highest risk for complications and death from asthma.
At least one crucial step in inhaler technique was missed by 42 percent of the children. About 18 percent did not use a spacer device with their inhaler. A spacer is a device that's recommended for use with an inhaler to help the right amount of asthma medication reach the lungs.
Teens were the most likely to make mistakes in inhaler technique and to skip use of a spacer, according to the study published this week in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
"We know that asthma can be well-managed in the majority of patients and using your inhaler correctly is key factor to managing asthma," said lead author Dr. Waheeda Samady, a hospitalist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
"Improper inhaler technique can contribute to children having uncontrolled asthma and needing to come to the hospital for their asthma," Samady said in a hospital news release.
"Our study suggests that as healthcare providers we can do a better job showing patients and families the correct inhaler and spacer technique, and checking it frequently to ensure they master it," she added.
"We see that our adolescent patients, who are transitioning to independent medication management, still need close monitoring to make sure they use their inhaler and spacer appropriately to achieve optimal asthma control," Samady said.
She pointed out that teens may feel that using a spacer is only for younger children, but "using a spacer is recommended for adults as well," Samady explained.
Previous research shows that adding a spacer to an inhaler boosts the amount of asthma medication a person takes in from 34 percent to 83 percent.
"Children with asthma can lead full lives if they receive the right medication at the appropriate dose, which is why correct inhaler technique is so crucial," Samady concluded.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on asthma inhalers.
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