How Long Do I Wait Between Inhaler Puffs?
The million dollar question: how long should I wait between inhaler puffs? Like many asthmatics, medications delivered by inhaler are an integral part of my everyday. Also, like many patients, I am not always the most patient patient. I know that there are changing theories on which inhaler to take first and visa versa, but I think that I have mastered inhaler technique administration.
Starting at the beginning, making sure things are primed. If your inhaler is a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) it is important that it is primed and ready to go. Priming essentially means that you spray the medication into the air to make sure it is ready to come out. Priming recommendations generally vary between inhalers.
Which inhaler do I use first?
Now that your inhaler is primed, which one do you take first?
The data and research are still up for interpretation. I know that my health care team had recommended that I take my bronchodilators first. However, this recommendation was also a long time ago and may now be outdated. In fairness, I have not yet asked my care team this question directly, I am slightly embarrassed that I am already supposed to know this information
In my research, I came across information from the Asthma Partners group that indicates that they have modified their recommendations and are no longer suggesting that patients use a bronchodilator first. The thought was that the bronchodilator would open the bronchial tubes, allowing the anti-inflammatory medication to penetrate deeper into the lungs. They found that patients were going to need to wait the 5-10 or more for the beta-agonist to work fully before they could move on to an anti-inflammatory and that this was impractical. Finally, people realize that some things are impractical for patients.3 Hoorah! They also found that the bronchial tubes were indeed open sufficiently to deliver anti-inflammatory medication without pre treatment. It is important to note that what one center recommends, may not be what your doctor recommendations. Please check with your care team before making any adjustments.
How long do you wait before taking inhaler puffs?
There are recommendations that if you use an inhaler in rapid supersession that you could without any pause, that it may deliver medication erratically. It is thought that this may be due to cooling taking place at the metal nozzle of the canister, which might interfere with the precise functioning and exact delivery. It is thought that slow inhalations, followed by brief breath-holding should be sufficient. It looks like the theories about holding for a minute between inhalations are being replaced as more data becomes available.4
I suspect that patients could see more changes in these theories as more research is conducted. Till then, I will keep an eye on my technique and will be mindful of bad rapid succession habits.
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