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Asthma and Treatment
Health Guide

Nebulisers

A nebuliser is a machine that pumps air through a liquid medicine making the medicine bubble until a fine mist is formed that is breathed in. The nebuliser is usually given to a sick asthmatic at the doctors surgery or at hospital. Some very bad or brittle asthmatics have a nebuliser at home.

Inhalers

These are devices that allow a patient to inhale medicine via a variety of different methods.

Puffers

Also called MDI or metered dose inhalers . These are devices that shoot the medicine out and then the patient simultaneously inhales the medicine. These are recommended for people over the age of six years of age unless combined with a spacer. They generally contain aerosol and CFC's but you can ask for a non-CFC containing puffer (the Aeromir inhaler). The problem with these inhalers is that coordination between puff and breath is very important. There are also breath activated devices that puff only when the patient breaths in e.g. repolin autohaler. Which eliminates the problem with coordination.

Turbuhaler

These are devices use a dry powder device that the patient breathes the medicine using the force of their breath only. Thus a certain amount of medicine or a dose is allocated with each 'click' of the inhaler. They are suitable for children over 5-6yrs of age and adults.

Diskhalers

These are devices that are again driven by the breath of the patient and again suitable for people over 5-6 yrs of age. They can be quite fidly to use for some people but generally kids love them. The medication in these is prepackaged in little 'bubbles' which are burst before each inhalation.

Spacers

These are tubes that allow a normal aerosol inhaler to be used in a similar fashion to a nebuliser. Thus adults and children and even babies can get adequate medicine into their lungs even when they are small or have difficulty breathing. The main use of these is the very young (1-5yrs) and the very old. However they can be used at any age. There are two main types of spacers:

  • Low volume =200mls (Aerochamber + Breath-A-Tech) these are for young children and may be used with a mask for infants under 2yrs age.
  • Large volume 500mls+(Fision + volumatic) these are larger volume for the larger child or adult.

Peak Flow Meters - Monitoring Asthma

These are small tube like instruments that you blow into to tell you how bad your asthma is or how tight your lungs are. They are very useful when you have an attack to tell whether the asthma is getting better or worse. If you monitor your peak flow regularly you can tell when an attack is eminent and how bad it is. They are often used in conjunction with an 'action plan' which is a chart that tells you what 'action' to take depending on you peak flow:

  1. Peak flow 75-100% of usual take medicine as usual.
  2. Peak flow 60-75% of usual worsening asthma means take more preventor and monitor peak flow four time s a day. See your doctor if the peak flow is not improving.
  3. Peak flow less than 60% severe asthma see your doctor the same day.
  4. Peak flow less than 40% Dangerous asthma. Call 111 for ambulance. Use any medicine required until ambulance arrives.

Your doctor may advise that you keep a chart of your peak flow to keep track of whether your asthma is getting better or worse, or whether it is responding to treatment.

More information on:

Asthma

Asthma and Treatment/Monitoring
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