Skip to content

Inhaler Users’ Biggest Mistakes

  • by

Many people who take medicine for asthma and other lung disease patients are using inhalers incorrectly, new studies show. WSJ’s Sumathi Reddy explains on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: iStock

Do you or someone you know need an inhaler because of asthma or another respiratory condition tens of millions of americans use metered dose inhalers among the most commonly used devices for treating respiratory diseases they deliver specific amounts of medication to the lungs with each spray breathed in but studies show that an astonishing 70 to 90% of the time

Inhalers are not used properly so why is it so hard to get it right joining us to discuss is wsj health reporter sue mathy ready hi samatha great to see you yeah so why is it so hard to use an inhaler properly so many people use it and is it dangerous that people are not using them properly um studies have found that as little as seven percent of the medicine is

Getting into your lungs when used improperly that’s obviously for making a lot of mistakes so could that be dangerous i mean is that a life-threatening situation if you’re not getting them at i mean it can be you can be part of the problem is that physiologically the lungs don’t or they want to reject things so right you’re using an inhaler perfectly you’re only

Getting probably about half of the medicine so that’s part of the problem now the other part of the problem is that almost everyone is making at least one mistake because the process itself is you know 9 to 12 steps right and there been studies that looking into this including one it just came out from rice university finding that what percentage of the medication

Is actually getting used so it’s as little as 7 percent that’s making it into the lungs and an investigation area about 50% so i’m just curious when you have findings like this can it all be chalked up to human error or should the devices be read it all part of it is the device also that’s that’s a problem too like i said even if you’re using it perfectly you’re

Only getting about 45 to 50 percent of them right right that is that plays a role okay so they found the most common mistake is simply that people just aren’t coordinated enough right yeah important agent the most damaging error okay is the coordination just everything at the same time as you pump sort of no actually you’re supposed to start breathing in and then

Press and activate the inhaler but people are doing this all kinds of ways sometimes they’re like breathing in too long before they’re activating it sometimes they’re activating it before they’re breathing in you know their days off and then they aren’t breathing perhaps deeply enough correct yes yeah so that’s another polish there’s the raped and sort of because

To breathe slowly and deeply it’s i’m – oh everything – faster i’m taking a deep enough breath so that can be problematic as well and then of course we know so children who have inhalers for asthma and seniors is the problem this coordination problem worse for certain groups yes so the ones you mentioned children of course elderly people people have cognitive

Difficulties and that can kind of get worked around by a lot of pulmonologist will recommend a spacer which is like a long tube right there kind of make sure that more more the medicine is getting into your long that’s the problem with that is it’s not as portable right obviously when you have your rescue inhaler and you’re you have it in your pocket you’re carrying

Around all day you’re not gonna have the two spacer as well yes so what advice based on all of this information that they now have what advice or doctors giving their patients who need inhalers and part of the problem is that you do checks when you first give some or inhaler but then they might you know we keep up with it for like a week or two but then they kind

Of forget and then the doctors don’t also have the time to do the recheck the next appointment so some doctors i talked to said they are you know making more of an effort to sort of recheck and hilary used to see you know i mean one doctor said yeah one patient was not taking the cap off the inhaler oh my gosh well look if you’re a medical device entrepreneur looks

Like there’s room in this space it’s a new invention sumathi thank you so much for having me

Transcribed from video
Inhaler Users' Biggest Mistakes By Wall Street Journal