You're Doing It Wrong

Many patients of asthma and lung disease are using their inhalers incorrectly

(RxWiki News) Once asthma and lung disease patients leave the hospital and are no longer under the supervision of physicians, they are likely to misuse their respiratory inhalers, according to new research.

Led by Dr. Valerie G. Press from the University of Chicago, researchers examined how 100 different patients of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) used their inhalers, specifically their metered dose inhalers or Diskus® devices.

The researchers discovered that misuse was highly common, with 86 percent of study participants misusing their metered dose inhalers and 71 percent misusing Diskus® devices.

Dr. Press and colleagues also found that those with vision problems were more likely to misuse their Diskus® inhalers. And, as those with COPD were twice as likely to have worse eyesight than those with asthma, COPD patients were more likely to misuse their Diskus® inhalers.

The good news is that these misuse issues were easily resolved. Upon discovery of this alarming misuse, researchers taught patients how to correctly use their inhalers. All of the study participants were able to fully master use of both metered dose inhalers and Diskus® devices.

In the United States, an estimated 7.7 percent of adults (17.5 million) and 9.6 percent of children (7.1 million) have asthma. In 2007, asthma was responsible for 3,447 deaths.

In 2006, COPD - a general term used to describe all forms of lung disease that obstruct airflow - was responsible for 46.4 deaths per 100,000. Examples of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The study by Press and colleagues is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Review Date: 
February 11, 2011