Adjusting To New Inhalers
During a recent cleaning spurt, I packed up about 20 corticosteroid inhalers (ICS) to send to a researcher doing work on used devices. This had me thinking about my experience of switching from my previous ICS to my current one.
When I switched from my ever faithful (yet perhaps not working quite as well as it used to) inhaler, to my newish inhaler, I was unsure about it. However, the change was made based on the smaller particle size and that the deposition of the smaller particles might be more effective for me.
The new inhaler learning curve
I had to get cozy again with my spacer. I would be switching from a dry powder inhaler (DPI) to a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). I wasn't sure how this experiment was going to go. This involved a slightly different inhaler technique. It is important that inhalers are taken correctly. If you are not getting the medication in, then it is not doing anything. I also was going to have to be getting used to carrying a spacer around as this was the absolute best technique with this new inhaler.
Experiencing side effects
I swear I was getting headaches, although I could not be 100% certain. There seemed to be mixed reviews from my care team if the medication was the exact cause and many thought it would subside quickly. It is listed as a common side effect of the medication.
It is important to remember that side effects are common and if you have concerns, you should speak to your team. It turns out that the headaches did indeed subside and I have had a pretty good run with this inhaler. It isn't perfect but it seems to be doing the trick.
Patience is key
It is important to note that our asthma can evolve and so may our inhaler choice. Like most things in life, things are not instant, so there was a period of adjustment in which I needed to be patient in seeing results. Sometimes it is a dosing change, sometimes it is just that different medication may work a bit differently.
I urge you not to be discouraged. Give it a bit of time, track your symptoms and even your improvements. I find that is best to get a more accurate feel about how I am doing during medication changes.
It is important to remember that everyone's experience is different. Speaking to your care team about changes in your asthma status or symptoms you think you may be experiencing is essential. It is also important to remember that we are all different and we may need different inhalers or inhalers that best match our phenotype. I once heard my doctor say that some patients try every inhaler on the chart because there is no rhyme or reason to the selection.1 With the move towards phenotyping, more patients' decisions on inhalers are being made with a more individualized approach.
Have you switched inhalers? What was your experience? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?