Home » Managing Illnesses » Canadians with Asthma Can Live Life to the Fullest with Proper Medication Adherence and Inhaler Technique

Dr. Jason Lee

Clinical Immunologist, Allergist, and Section Head – Asthma at CSACI

Sponsored by and made possible with support from Trudell Medical International

More than 2.5 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways that causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It has life-threatening and life-altering consequences, and yet 9 out of 10 patients have poor asthma control. One of the primary reasons for inadequate management is that patients of all ages, from children to seniors, aren’t getting the benefit from a full dose of their medication due to improper inhaler technique.

“It’s very simple,” says Dr. Andrew McIvor, a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University and a Staff Respirologist at Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, based in Hamilton, ON. “Those with asthma need to make every puff count to get the medicine they need to feel better. Most patients can be treated with inhalers, but they must be used correctly.”

Physicians may have difficulty being able to tell if patients are using their inhaler properly. The most common inhaler, a metered dose inhaler (MDI), delivers a pre-measured amount of medication with a short burst, offering relief from asthma symptoms when either a “rescue” medication or “controller” medication is used. In order for the medication to be effective, it must be used properly.

Optimizing inhaler efficiency made easy

Incorrect usage of an MDI means the medication ends up being trapped in the mouth before reaching its intended destination — the lungs. When this happens, patients can experience an unpleasant taste in their mouths or develop oral thrush (a type of yeast infection).

There is a device option now clinically proven to improve patient outcomes, as it helps to ensure those with asthma get the prescribed amount of medication from their MDIs into their lungs more efficiently. The AEROCHAMBER valved-holding chamber helps patients gain greater control of their respiratory symptoms by delivering the intended dose of the medication to where it is needed in the lungs.

As Dr. McIvor explains, “The chamber captures the medication, like a cloud, so that patients can breathe slowly and take it in. It allows patients to take the time to get a breath, then inhale the right dosage and experience the optimal benefits from their medication.”

Some people with asthma find that the medication is dispensed too fast, causing them to gasp or gag, inhibiting their ability to take a breath — which can be even more difficult if they are having an asthma attack. The AEROCHAMBER is available in various sizes to specifically match every patient’s needs for fit and inhaling ability, and also includes a FLOW-VU indicator enabling caregivers to see that the medication is being inhaled.

Better delivery of asthma medicine for patients

“There is considerable evidence that valved-holding chambers for most patients — especially in the very old or pediatric age group — provide better delivery of asthma medications,” says Toronto-based Dr. Jason Lee, a Clinical Immunologist and Allergist and Head of Asthma at The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. “Using an MDI, even if done correctly, is not as good at ensuring equal inhalation distribution as using a chamber in conjunction with an MDI, which allows for more ‘normal’ breathing. An MDI alone requires careful timing and technique, which must be practiced and perfected.”

Tiffany Riley, a Toronto mother, has seen the benefits of a chamber device first hand. Her seven-year-old son Julius has had asthma since he was two and uses the AEROCHAMBER to manage his symptoms. “It has allowed better control of my son’s asthma, because when he is using the AEROCHAMBER, I can watch the FLOW-VU  feedback indicator and rest assured knowing that he is getting each puff when I give it to him,” she says.

By talking to their doctor or pharmacist, asthma patients can find out how the AEROCHAMBER can play a role in the management of their condition.

Next article