Entailing correct inhaling

The National Asthma Council Australia (NACA) has released a package of new and updated resources for primary care health professionals to help combat the problem of incorrect inhaler technique.

Research shows that up to 90 per cent of patients use their inhalers for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) incorrectly. Moreover, the patients’ assessment of their ability is not a reliable guide.

An Australian study found that 75 per cent of patients using an inhaler for two to three years reported they were using it correctly, but on objective checking, only 10 per cent had the correct technique.

NACA has released an updated version of its popular ‘Inhaler technique for people with asthma or COPD’ information paper to provide clearer practice recommendations and incorporate new medicines and devices that have come onto the market in the past two years.

“It’s really hard for health professionals to keep track of all the inhalers, especially as new medicines and devices continue to become available,” NACA asthma and respiratory educator and nurse Judi Wicking said.

“Many health professionals don’t realise how common poor technique is, nor how big an impact this can have on asthma and COPD management. The good news is that correcting patients’ inhaler technique has been shown to improve lung function, quality of life and asthma control.”

The updated information paper summarises the latest evidence on the prevalence and impact of incorrect technique and includes checklists for using the expanding range of new respiratory devices available on the market.

“The paper reflects the advice in the Australian Asthma Handbook, which recommends that inhaler technique should always be checked before considering dose escalation or add-on therapy,” Ms Wicking said.

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