Most parents improperly administer inhaled asthma meds to their children

According to a report in HealthDay News, U.S. researchers asked 169 parents or caregivers in New York City to demonstrate the administration of asthma medications, and found that only one was able to show all 10 critical steps for properly using a spacing device with an inhaler. Of the five essentials steps for accurate medication delivery, asking the child to take deep six breaths for a single actuation of the inhaler and waiting at least 30 seconds following those breaths before administering the second dose were the steps left out by most participants.

The findings appear in the Journal of Asthma.

Most asthma medications are inhaled, and delivered through devices known as metered-dose inhalers. Because it’s not always easy for children to use these inhalers, a device called a spacer is often used in conjunction with the inhaler. The spacer holds the medication in a special chamber that allows the child to inhale the drug in several breaths, rather than one. Many spacers are also fitted with a mask that makes them easier for young children to use.

For this study, the researchers identified the critical steps for proper use of a spacing device with an inhaler, based on national guidelines and manufacturer’s instructions.

Of these 10 steps, the researchers zeroed in a five they considered “essential” for adequate medication delivery:

  • shaking the inhaler before use;
  • forming a seal between the device and the child’s face;
  • pressing down on an inhaler just once (single actuation);
  • taking at least six slow and deep breaths before using another actuation, and
  • waiting at least 30 seconds after the six breaths before doing the second actuation.

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