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Study shows kids at risk from inhaler mistakes

A young child using an inhaler.

May 9, 2019—Many teens and younger children with asthma aren't using their inhalers correctly, a new study suggests. That puts them in danger of worsening symptoms and serious attacks.

The study looked at inhaler use in kids—age 2 to 16 years—while they were hospitalized for asthma. They're the children most at risk for serious complications and even death from asthma.

Of the more than 100 kids, 42% missed at least one step in using their inhalers properly. That means nearly half weren't getting the right dose of their asthma medicine.

Better together: Inhalers and spacers

Adolescents were the most likely to use their inhalers incorrectly. Nearly 20% of kids skipped using a spacer, a device that helps the right amount of asthma medicine reach the lungs, and these kids were mostly older.

Adolescents may wrongly assume spacers are just for younger children, the researchers speculate. But these devices can make a big difference for people of all ages. In fact, previous research showed spacers increased the amount of medicine people take in from 34% to 83%.

With proper medication use, asthma can be well-managed—and children with it can lead full lives. That's why using an inhaler properly is so crucial, the researchers emphasize.

The study appeared in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

A technique checkup

Does your child use an inhaler? Ask your child's healthcare provider to help make sure it's being used properly. Going over the technique regularly can help ensure kids are getting the right amount of medicine.

You can also check out this guide to inhalers and nebulizers.

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