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Medicines for inhalation

... an essay of Dr. Christian Gerninghaus

How to administer medicines correctly

The use of inhalators for medications often appears very difficult. Especially with this form of administering, the patient’s handling is decisive. By improper use of inhalators medicines often do not work as they should. Here is some basic advice.

First about inhalation liquids which are administered with electric inhalators. The equipment as well as the liquids has to be handled with care and strictly hygienic. Packages have to be used before expiration date. During the inhalation process one should take an upright position to prevent from narrowing the bronchial passages. Mouth pieces have to be preferred to face masks. Above all, coordination of breathing and activation of the inhalator is difficult. Inhalation should be done as deep and slow as possible. After breathing in the inhalant, the patient should wait a little before slowly exhaling. The use of bronchial substances should not be followed by outside walks in cold air. Rather stay some time in the warm room. After use inhalation devices have to be cleaned thoroughly. Remains of opened inhaling liquids have to be disposed.

There are easy to carry inhalation devices, too. They come as so called aerosol dispensers in small pressure tanks with special mouth pieces. Pressure tanks have to be protected from heat, for example direct sunrays. Especially cars in summertime are heated up to dangerous temperatures. By this pressure tanks can be damaged so that exact dosage is made impossible.

In addition to the above advice the following should be observed:

  • shake the tank thoroughly before use
  • cover mouth piece with your lips
  • lean back your head
  • press the valve and inhale simultaneously
  • hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds
  • exhale through the nose
  • wait 30 seconds before using the inhaler again
  • for patients who find it difficult to follow those instructions, advise to ask for special devices that are developed for children.