Monthly Archives: November 2013

Just Breathe

I just read an article in Health Day that states only one out of 136 caregivers participating in a study published recently in the Journal of Asthma knew all the steps to take when helping a child use an inhaler with a spacer (the study states 10 steps, but a quick look online shows variations anywhere from 8-12 steps).  As a healthcare provider, this is concerning to me.  I wonder how much of what I teach sticks with my patients?

The American Lung Association gives these statistics about children and asthma:

  • Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in childhood
  • Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations in children under the age of 15
  • Asthma is one the the leading causes of school absenteeism

Clearly, it’s important that inhalers are used correctly to keep children in school learning and out of the hospital. So, what are the steps to help a child get his/her asthma medicine? Here is a great patient handout produced by the Health Plan of San Mateo:


The two steps missed most commonly in the study were having the child take at least 6 slow breaths after the inhaler was pressed and waiting 30 seconds before releasing the second dose.

I plan to not only demonstrate proper inhaler use, but will reinforce the education with a handout similar to this. For all of you parents out there with asthmatic children, please make sure you are helping your child with his/her inhaler using all the recommended steps.  Remember to see your healthcare provider if you have questions about the use of, or how to give, any medicines. ¡Salud!

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