COPD – Breathing Easier with Aerosols & Inhalers
What Are These Things and How Do I Use Them?
At first, an inhaler may look hard to use…but it is not. The trick is to learn how to use it the right way so that you get the full benefit of the medicine that is in the aeresol mist you breathe into your lungs. There are several types of inhalers. The goal of these inhalers is to give you a dose of medication which you inhale. Learn more about inhalers and how to use them, clean them and store them.
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Why would I need an inhaler?
What does aerosol mean and how does it work?
When medicine is mixed with gas, it is a medical aerosol. There are different types of devices that deliver this aerosol, which you use to inhale the medication to breathe easier.
Is a nebulizer also an inhaler?
There are 3 types of aerosol devices used for COPD treatment. Below are descriptions given to us from the American Association for Respiratory Care:
- Pressurized metered-dose inhaler (pMDI)
- This is the most common type of inhaler that usually comes to mind. It’s a small aluminum canister that contains both medicine and pressurized aerosol, which is inserted into a plastic device that you place into your mouth to deliver the medicine (which is a liquid mist).
- Dry-powder inhaler (DPI)
- This is a newer kind of inhaler. There is no wet mist. The medication is delivered as a fine,dry powder and there is no pressurized aerosol to push the medicine out for you to breathe. Instead, you create the energy to draw out the medication when you take a deep and fast breath (inhalation) through the inhaler. This breath carries the powdered medication into your lungs.
- Small-volume nebulizer (SVN)
- This is the oldest type of aerosol device. It usually is made up of several parts, which include a plastic tube, a small plastic nebulizer and a compressor. When liquid medication is placed in the nebulizer cup and the compressor is turned on, the gas creates the aerosol which you then breathe.
More details on the different brands and types of inhalers and aerosols can be found further below.
How to Use Inhalers
A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Inhalers and Aerosol Medications from the American Association for Respiratory Care
This guide from the American Association for Respiratory Care is filled with a tremendous amount of good information, including how to clean and take care of your inhaler and/or nebulizer. Be sure to go over this information with your doctor and health care team.
CLEANING YOUR INHALER and/or NEBULIZER
In this guide, from the American Association for Respiratory Care, detailed instructions for cleaning and maintaining your inhaler and/or nebulizer can be found on pages 48 – 50.
Tools & Resources at Your Fingertips
Additional Valuable Tools & Resources
The American Thoracic Society’s “Using Your Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)” gives you simple instructions on how to use your MDI with a spacer and without a spacer.