Breathing: COPD: Inhaler

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What is an Inhaler?


An inhaler is a small L-shaped device that sprays out medication when depressed. There are a number of different ways that medication can be delivered using an inhaler. 

 

Meter Dose Inhalers

 

The most commonly recognized method is a meter dose inhaler. Meter dose inhalers work by pushing down on the canister and ejecting the medicine in a cloud of mist. Administering the medication via an inhaler has the benefit of providing drug delivery directly to the lungs, while minimizing the potential side effects associated with absorption of the drug in other parts of the body

 

Unfortunately, the ability for this to deliver medicine into the lungs is highly user dependent. Users have to start to inhale then depress the medicine and try to inhale the medicine into the lungs without having it depositing on the lips, on the tongue, or on the back of the throat. To try to compensate for that, there’s a device called a spacer.

 

Spacers

 

A spacer is a clear plastic tube into which the inhaler is inserted on one side.  On the other side, there is a mouthpiece. After the medication is ejected into the spacer, the user inhales using the mouthpiece, pulling the medication into the lungs. This helps to minimize the amount of medicine that is deposited on the lips or the back of the throat or tongue, and it helps to increase the amount of medicine that gets delivered to the lungs.

 

Dry Powder Inhalers

 

One alternative approach to the meter dose inhaler is a dry powder inhaler. It comes usually in the form of a disk of some type. The user loads the medication by pulling a lever, and then exhales completely. Next, the user puts the device to his/her mouth and inhales deeply. As the user inhales, the air moves through the device, picks up the medicine in powder form, and pulls it into the lungs. Both ways are effective approaches to deliver medicine correctly into the lungs.

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