Your doctor may have prescribed you medicines to help manage your Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which are tailored to control your symptoms and prevent exacerbations (flare-ups). As COPD medicines act on the airways and the lungs, most are taken through an inhaler device.
Using an inhaler device is a skill and research shows up to 90% of Australians do not use their inhaler device correctly1. By having the right inhaler device technique, you can be sure the medicine is getting to where it needs to be in your lungs and doing what it needs to do to reduce your symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of the following, make sure you check you are using your inhaler correctly2:
- You are still feeling breathless after using your inhaler
- A mist of medicine particles comes out of the top of the device when you use it or out of your mouth when you breathe out after using your inhaler
- You feel the medicine mostly on your tongue.
There are different types of COPD inhalers which can work differently. It is best to ask your health professional to show you how to use your inhaler correctly and help you to practice getting the technique right. If your inhaler device changes or extra medicines are added, this can complicate your treatment. The more inhaler types you are using, the greater the chance you have of using them incorrectly. If you are using more than two inhalers, talk to your doctor about the possibility of reducing the number you need to use. This can often be done without changing the type of medicine inside the inhaler device.
Over time, you may also start to take short cuts or develop bad habits. This means you may not be getting the full dose of medicine needed to manage your symptoms. It is important to regularly check your technique with your General Practitioner, nurse or pharmacist.
1 National Asthma Council, 2018, https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/resources/health-professionals/information-paper/hp-inhaler-technique-for-people-with-asthma-or-copd
2 NPS MedicineWise, 2017, https://www.nps.org.au/medical-info/consumer-info/inhaler-devices-for-respiratory-medicines?c=when-to-check-your-inhaler-technique-94159ec3