Administering asthma medicine usually happens in one of three ways.
- Metered dose inhaler (with or without spacer)
- Dry powder inhaler
Each one of these devices operate differently. You may wonder which will work best for your child. To figure that out, you should know a little about how each type works.
Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs) - Metered dose inhalers are what people think of when they think of asthma inhalers. They have the aerosol canister of pressurized medicine in a tube. Pump action allows the medicine to spray out, and your child inhales it.
An add-on called a spacer can help those who have difficulty with using an MDI. The spacer is a long tube you can attach to the MDI. It can slow down and spread out the medicine. This helps more of the medicine to get into the lungs, rather than just into the mouth.
You can only use a spacer with an MDI. Spacers aren't necessary for using an MDI, but they do make MDIs more effective.
Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) - Dry powder inhalers contain powder versions of asthma medicine. Your child will have to inhale deeply to receive the full effect of a DPI administration.
DPI designs tend to change depending on the specific asthma medication they contain. Many consider the actual working of a DPI far easier than an MDI because it doesn't require a lot of coordination.
Nebulizers - Nebulizers administer asthma medicine as mist. This makes it incredibly easy for a child to breathe it in. There are larger nebulizers that you can plug in at home, and smaller ones that require batteries.
In all cases, a nebulizer will require a power source. In addition, a nebulizer delivers the medicine more slowly than an inhaler. However, this does not mean a nebulizer is less effective, or that it won't mitigate an asthma attack.
Your Child's Age Matters
Usually, the age of your child will determine the best method for delivering asthma medication. Nebulizers work best for infants, toddlers, and any child that has trouble using inhalers. MDIs with a spacer or face mask work well for toddlers and slightly older children. Children over five can use an MDI without a spacer, or a DPI, in most cases.
Technique Also Matters
In the end, all methods of administering asthma medicine are effective as long as your child knows how to use the method properly. There's a technique to using each of these methods that allow them to work at full capacity.
If your child has trouble with an MDI, he or she may need to hold onto a nebulizer. If your child cannot master the quick, deep inhalation needed for a DPI, he or she may need an MDI with a spacer. Work with your child's doctor to figure out which method will work best. For more on this topic, contact a company like B and B Medical Technologies.