Care to learn more about Asthma and other topics?
Have a scholars heart and a very small wallet? Here is a solution for you:
If you are an asthmatic, you're well aquainted a high tech device we typically call an “inhaler.” It is actually called a Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)...and they do this not to sound more intelligent than the rest of us. Instead the inhaler is called what it is because the device actually knows how much medicine to dispense at a time and takes care of measuring it and getting it ready for us so that we don't even have to think about it. That's actually kind of cool if you think about it.
Since most of us don't sit around and think about how the inhaler works and exactly how high or low tech it might be, we might take it's operation for granted in other ways as well. In doing so we might not be getting the most out of the inhaler, thus hampering our ability to live well with our asthma.
Next time you look at your inhaler, read the instructions over well. You may find that in order to get the proper dose you need to prime it (a dummy puff, basically). Some inhalers need to be primed after every 24 hours of being unused, whereas others only need to be primed every few weeks if unused (and yes, some of us don't use our inhalers every day and may just forget to prime it). Make sure that you prime your inhaler if it needs it to ensure that you have the proper dose ready for you if you need to use it as a rescue medicine.
Most inhalers also need to be shaken before use, this mixes the medicine. If you are under the impression you do not need to do this, please double check the instructions, you are probably not getting the proper dosage of medicine if you don't. In fact, you may be getting nothing but propellants, which may cause you to cough or gag and put you off using the inhaler altogether.
You don't clean your toothbrush...so...you shouldn't have to clean your dispenser, as long as you don't share, right? Er...not so fast. While we may not clean out our toothbrush we do throw them out regularly and most of us rinse them after each use, removing residue which could collect on the brush. Your dispenser (the little plastic device the inhaler bottle sits in) accumulates stuff too. Thus it needs to be cleaned out periodically. If you remove the little cap over the mouthpiece you may find there is a white residue where the medicine comes out...that is dried medicine and if it builds up it can cause you to not get a full dose when you need one. Best to wash it away. And as an added bonus you get rid of icky mouth germs hanging out by the mouthpiece. What's not to love?
Your dispenser and inhaler came with instructions for care, you should follow those directions when cleaning the unit. If you have lost them, I recommend rinsing the dispenser each evening before bed and then washing more carefully once a week. Make sure to remove the medicine bottle from the container and wash with warm water. Do not place it in the dishwasher and allow to dry completely before putting the medicine back in. If you have one of those other devices (Valved holding chambers or "spacers") which attach to your inhaler, that needs to be washed as well. take the end caps off and soak all the pieces in warm water with a little dish soap in it and then rinse in warm water. Allow to air dry on a towel and do not use a towel or rag to dry them (you could inhale this fuzz and heaven only knows what might happen).
And of course, most importantly, keep your inhaler handy. It won't help you if you are at work and it is in the car...it can't help you if you are at home and it is in your gym locker. The inhaler of a friend, or primatine mist might get you to the doctor unscathed, but those are not practices one should embrace or use frequently as they come with great risks.
Use your inhaler as directed. Do not use it when you are not supposed to, more than you are prescribed or share it with other asthmatics. Unless you are in a crisis without your own inhaler, do not use other inhalers. If you are on a regular dosing schedule with your inhaler do not skip doses. If you believe yourself to be improving and in need of a change of schedule or strength of medication, make sure your doctor helps you work out the proper protocols. If you don't like your spacer or your medicine makes you cough, talk to a doctor before throwing in the towel and making changes on your own.
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