If you suffer from asthma, using your inhaler is not something you would normally think twice about, but new research suggests that you should.
According to the National Asthma Council Australia (NACA), up to 90 per cent of Australians are using their asthma inhalers incorrectly, increasing the risk of hospitalisation by 50 per cent.
Older adults, people with severe airflow limitation and people using more than one type of inhaler device are among the groups most likely to be using their inhalers incorrectly.
Even people who have been using their inhalers for years are likely to need help with inhaling properly, with a University of Sydney study finding that six out of seven confident inhaler users were mistaken in thinking they had the correct technique.
Most pharmacists will be happy to provide an in-store check of your inhaler technique and some are now even providing stickers to remind users what they need to improve.
Pharmacists are also recommending that older adults and young children use an inhaler spacer to ensure the medication ends up in the lungs and not in the mouth, tongue, teeth or back of the throat.
The correct technique for using an inhaler is to cover the device with your lips, with your teeth and tongue out of the way, and as you are spraying, simultaneously breath in and hold your breath for as long as you comfortable.
Holding your breath allows the medicine to reach the very bottom of your lungs.
Other important things to remember are to give your new inhaler a priming spray as soon as you open it, otherwise your first spray may not distribute a full dosage.
NACA has a range of instructional videos available on their web site for the various different kinds of inhalers that are available.
The correct technique for a standard Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) can be viewed here:
Around 2.5 million Australians have asthma, roughly one in 10, and the long-term lung condition cannot be cured, but can be easily managed.