Nebulizers

Download the Nebulizers – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

Nebulizers are small air compressors used to administer medicine. Users put a nebulizer mask on their face or use a mouthpiece to breathe in mists of air mixed with medicine. Nebulizers do not require oxygen tanks; they use the air in the room.

Who should use a nebulizer?

A health care provider may recommend a nebulizer for a variety of reasons. Nebulizers are often prescribed for infants and children who are not coordinated enough to use an inhaler. Also, the liquid vials of medicine used with nebulizers can be less expensive than purchasing the same medicine in an inhaler.

However, nebulizers are not always the best option for someone with asthma. They are not as portable as inhalers, so someone who only has a nebulizer may not have easy access to their medicine if their asthma acts up away from home. Some asthma medicines are also not available for nebulizers.

How do I use a nebulizer?

If you are prescribed a nebulizer, follow these steps carefully:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Open the medication cup and fill it with medication as prescribed by your health care provider.
  3. Secure the cap.
  4. Attach either a mouthpiece or mask to the end of the medication cup.
  5. Hook one end of the tubing to the medication cup and the other end to the nebulizer.
  6. If using a mouthpiece, seal lips tightly around the mouthpiece. If using a mask, place mask firmly on the face.
  7. Turn on the nebulizer. Breathe normally through the mouthpiece or mask. Continue until you no longer see the medication mist (about 10 minutes).

Care and cleaning of a nebulizer

It is very important to clean your nebulizer to prevent infections.

  • Always wash your hands prior to touching medicine.
  • After each use, remove the medication cup and rinse with warm water. Place on a paper towel and allow to air dry.
  • Once a week, clean medication cup in mild soapy water or one part vinegar and two parts water. Rinse well and place on a paper towel to air dry.
  • Replace the nebulizer cup and tubing every six months.
  • Change the filter in your nebulizer when it becomes discolored.
  • Never wash or clean the tubing because mold can grow inside.

Dry Powder Inhalers

Download the Using a Dry Power Inhaler – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

Using a Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI or Diskus®)

Dry powder inhalers (DPIs) are a type of long-term controller medicine. This type of medicine can be prescribed to help reduce the frequency of asthma symptoms. It works slowly to reduce swelling in the airways, which is an underlying cause of asthma symptoms.

Directions on how to use your dry powder inhaler:

  1. Remove all candy, food or gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Hold the inhaler level to the floor.
  4. Open the inhaler with the mouthpiece facing you.
  5. Slide the lever away from you until you hear it click. This means the medicine has been released. Be careful not to tip the inhaler or slide the lever again; the medicine will fall out and it will be wasted.
  6. Take a deep breath in and breathe out.
  7. Place the inhaler in your mouth, seal your lips tightly around it and take a quick, deep breath in.
  8. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then breathe out.
  9. Rinse your mouth with water and spit water out.

Helpful tips for use:

Because this medicine is a dry powder, moisture can ruin the medicine and cause it to clump.

  • When preparing to take a dry powder inhaler, be sure not to breathe into the inhaler.
  • Do not store in the bathroom.

Metered Dose Inhalers

Download the Using a Metered Dose Inhaler – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) can contain long-term controller medicine or quick-relief medicine. It is important to know which medicine your inhaler contains because the two types of medicines work on different parts of asthma.

Spacers (holding chambers)

Whenever possible, use a spacer (also known as a “holding chamber”) with your metered dose inhaler. A spacer is a plastic tube that connects to the mouthpiece of an inhaler and helps get medicine deeper into the lungs and airways.

A spacer helps direct the medicine to the airways so that each dose of medicine is more effective and less medicine is wasted.

Using a metered dose inhaler with a spacer:

  1. Remove any candy, food or gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Remove the cap of the inhaler and attach it to the spacer. Make sure to clean out any dust or fuzz so that there is nothing inside either one.
  4. Shake the inhaler and spacer for five seconds.
  5. Take a deep breath in and breathe out slowly to empty your lungs completely.
  6. Put the spacer in your mouth and seal your lips around the mouthpiece.
  7. Press down on the inhaler and take a slow deep breath in.
  8. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and then breathe out.
  9. If using a controller medicine, rinse your mouth with water and spit water out.

Using a metered dose inhaler without a spacer:

  1. Remove any candy, food or gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Remove the cap of the inhaler and attach it to the spacer. Make sure to clean out any dust or fuzz so that there is nothing inside either one.
  4. Shake the inhaler and spacer for five seconds.
  5. Take a deep breath in and breathe out slowly to empty your lungs completely.
  6. Place the inhaler mouthpiece inside your mouth and seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  7. Take a slow breath in, press down on the inhaler and breathe in the medicine.
  8. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and then breathe out.
  9. If using a controller medicine, rinse your mouth with water and spit water out.

Asthma Warning Signs

Download the Asthma Warning Signs – What You Need to Know PDF.

Asthma warning signs are the symptoms you feel when your airways are narrowing and your body is receiving less oxygen. Asthma warning signs are different for everyone. It is important to know your warning signs so you can take the right steps to stop the asthma episode from getting worse. Your asthma warning signs and how to respond to them are included in your Asthma Action Plan.

    LEVEL 1

Early Warning Signs

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Watery eyes
  • Stomachache

How to Respond

  • Move away from any triggers
  • Take your quick-relief medication
  • Monitor your warning signs

 

    LEVEL 2

More Serious Warning Signs

  • Medications are not working or do not last
  • Increase in coughing or chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Inability to do normal activities

How to Respond

  • Take the same steps as Level 1: move away from triggers, take quick-relief medication and monitor your warning signs
  • If signs get worse or are not better within 15 minutes of using medication, follow your Asthma Action Plan and call 911

 

    LEVEL 3

Severe Warning Signs

  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Skin sucking in at ribs and neck
  • Paling, blue or gray lips and nail beds

How to Respond

  • Call 911! Any ONE of these symptoms needs immediate medical help
  • If you have not already, take your quick-relief medication

Preparándose para la Escuela

Descargar Preparándose para la Escuela – Lo Que Usted Necesita Saber PDF o en inglés Preparing for School with Asthma – What You Need to Know PDF,

 

Es importante prepararse con tiempo para la escuela, en especial si su hijo padece de una enfermedad crónica como el asma. En Illinois, todos aquellos niños que padecen de asma y que pueden administrarse sus medicamentos sin ayuda, tienen permitido llevar consigo en todo momento, su medicamento de alivio.

Es importante dejar que sus niños comiencen a cuidar de su asma ellos mismos al menos 6 meses antes de iniciar el kindergarten o la escuela. Esto le permitirá saber si su hijo está usando sus medicamentos correctamente antes de que comience la escuela. Seguramente cometerá errores pero es mejor que estos sucedan cuando usted esté ahí para corregirlos.

A continuación se presentan algunos consejos que harán esta transición más fácil para ambos.

  • Comience a enseñar a sus hijos a reconocer signos y síntomas de su asma.
  • Enséñeles como usar su medicamento de alivio con un espaciador.
  • Enséñeles como usar un medidor de flujo máximo (del inglés peak flow meter).
  • Asegúrese que comprendan la importancia de llevar su medicamento siempre con ellos.
  • Asegúrese que sepan qué cosas desencadenan su asma y como evitarlas en la escuela.
  • Haga que su hijo practique administrarse su medicamento enfrente de usted.
  • Asegúrese que sepan como avisarle a un adulto cuando comiencen a tener síntomas de asma.

Después de haber preparado a su hijo/a, es importante estar seguro que la escuela está preparada para recibir a él/ella.

  • Llame a la escuela y asegúrese de obtener y firmar todos los formularios requeridos por usted, de manera que su hijo pueda llevar consigo sus medicamentos.
  • Haga una cita para conocer a la enfermera de la escuela y asegúrese de explicarle cuáles son los síntomas de asma de su hijo, qué cosas pueden provocarle síntomas y qué medicamentos utiliza.
  • Proporcione a la escuela un plan de acción para el asma y póngase de acuerdo con los encargados en cuanto a los lugares en donde se mantendrá dicho plan.
  • Asegúrese que la escuela tenga todos los teléfonos de emergencia necesarios para poder contactarla a usted o a cualquier otra persona que tenga conocimiento del asma de su hijo/a.
  • Al inicio de cada año escolar, reúnase con el maestro encargado de su hijo/a para explicarle e informarle acerca del asma de su niño/a.
  • Los niños con asma tienen el derecho de estar a salvo mientras estén en la escuela. Por favor asegúrese que la escuela sepa de cualquier cambio, arreglo o ajuste que necesite realizar para que esto sea possible.

Preparing for School with Asthma

Download the Preparing for School with Asthma – What You Need to Know PDF or en español, Preparándose para la Escuela – Lo Que Usted Necesita Saber PDF.

 

If your child has asthma, it is important to start preparing for school early. All children in Illinois with asthma are allowed to carry and use their quick-relief asthma inhaler while at school, so you’ll want to make sure your child knows how to use his or her inhaler during the school day.

Begin letting your child use his or her quick-reliever at least six months before starting school. By practicing together, you can ensure your child is using the inhaler correctly and does not have your help. There will be mistakes, so it is best that you are there to correct them.

Be sure to teach your child:

  • That it is important to always keep his or her asthma medicine nearby.
  • What triggers his or her asthma and how to avoid these triggers at school.
  • How to recognize his or her asthma signs and symptoms.
  • How to tell an adult when asthma symptoms start.
  • When to use quick-reliever medicine.
  • How to use quick-reliever medicine with a spacer.

Ensure that your school has the necessary materials:

As of August 2010, in accordance with Illinois Public Act 096-1460, your child does not need a doctor’s note to carry and use a quick-relief asthma inhaler at school.

The school does need:

  • You to fill out and promptly return all required forms, including documentation of an asthma diagnosis.
  • A note signed by you explaining that your child can carry and use his or her quick-relief inhaler.
  • The prescription label off of your child’s medication box.

Make sure the school is ready for your child:

  • Call and meet with school staff to file an Individualized Health Care Plan (504 plan), a legal document that provides modifications to your child while at school.
  • Ensure that the nurse and teacher have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is a written document that explains your child’s asthma triggers, symptoms, medicines and actions to take during an asthma episode.
  • Provide two inhalers whenever possible. Your child should carry one with him/her, and the school staff should keep a backup.
  • Provide the school with emergency contact information so you or someone else can be reached in an emergency.

Spacers

Download the Spacers – What You Need to Know PDF or en español, Medidores de Flujo Máximo – Lo que Usted Necesita Saber PDF.

 

Many asthma medications come in a small metal canister called a metered dose inhaler (MDI). The inhaler expels the medication in a fast, short burst. It is recommended that you use a spacer (holding chamber) with your MDI. There are many different types of spacers. Your health care provider can prescribe and show you how to use the one that is best for you.

If your health care provider has given you one quick relief inhaler and one long-term controller inhaler, it is important to know which one to use when.

Spacers

When possible, use a spacer with your metered dose inhaler. A spacer is a plastic tube that connects to the mouthpiece of an inhaler and helps get medication deeper into the lungs and airways. It helps direct the medication to the airways so that each dose of medication is more effective.

Clean your spacer and MDI each week to prevent the buildup of medication:

  1. Take the spacer apart (as recommended by manufacturer’s instructions)
  2. Wash each piece separately with warm, soapy water
  3. Do not rinse
  4. Let dry on a clean, lint-free towel

Some spacers have a delicate, soft valve disc under the mouthpiece. Do not rip off the disk. If the disk begins to harden or curl, replace your spacer.

How to Use Your MDI with a Spacer

  1. Remove all food, candy and gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Remove the cap from your inhaler and spacer. Make sure to clean out any dust or fuzz so that there is nothing inside either one.
  4. Shake the inhaler for 5 seconds.
  5. Place the inhaler into the spacer.
  6. Take a deep breath in and out.
  7. Put the spacer in your mouth and seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  8. Press down on your inhaler and take a long, slow breath in.
  9. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then breathe out.

 

This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Peak Flow Meters

Download the Peak Flow Meters – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

Peak flow meters measure how you push air out of your lungs. Your health care provider can prescribe one for you to help manage your asthma. Peak flow meters are usually used with Asthma Action Plans.

Using Your Peak Flow Meter

  1. Remove all food, candy or gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Set the marker to zero.
  4. Take in a deep breath.
  5. Place the peak flow meter in your mouth and seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  6. Exhale hard and fast into the meter.
  7. Remove the peak flow meter from your mouth.
  8. Look at your number and write it down.
  9. Repeat all the above steps two more times.
  10. After three attempts, record the highest number into your log.

Cleaning Instructions

  1. Clean peak flow meter once a week.
  2. Wash with warm water and a mild liquid soap.
  3. Rinse gently and allow to air dry completely on a lint free towel.
  4. Refer to your peak flow meter instructions for further information.

 

This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Asthma Medications

Download the Asthma Medications – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

There are two main types of asthma medications: quick-relief (or reliever) and long-term control (or controllers). Talk to your health care provider to determine the medication(s) you should use.

Quick-relief Medication (Reliever)

Who should have it?

  • Everyone with asthma should be prescribed quick-relief medication by a health care provider
  • Carry it with you at all times

How does it work?

  • Relieves the squeezing of the muscles around the airways
  • Works within 10 to 15 minutes of use

When should it be used?

  • Upon first warning sign

What are the side effects?

  • Rapid heart rate, shaky hands, jittery feeling
  • Symptoms go away a half-hour after using your medication

What are some common types?

  • Pro Air®
  • Proventil®
  • Ventolin®
  • Xopenex®

Helpful tips

  • Label your quick-relief medication with “QR”
  • Use a spacer with your quick-relief inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs

 

Long-Term Controller Medication

Who Should Have It?

  • Only those with a prescription

How Does It Work?

  • Prevents swelling and mucus build up in the airways
  • Makes airways less sensitive to triggers

When Should It be Used?

  • Every day
  • Even if you do not have symptoms

What are the Side Effects?

  • Hoarseness
  • Thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth (rinse your mouth with water and spit to avoid thrush)

What are Some Common Types?

  • Advair
  • Flovent
  • Pulmincort
  • Qvar
  • Singulair
  • Symbicort

Helpful Tips

  • Do not store in the bathroom (humidity can make medication clump)
  • Use a spacer with your long-term controller inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs

 

This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Spirometry

Download the Spirometry – What You Need to Know PDF.

 

Spirometry is a noninvasive breathing test that determines how well a person’s lungs are working. This test is done with a device called a spirometer.

A spirometer measures both the amount of air and how fast a person can blow it out of their lungs. This test is able to detect very small changes in breathing before a person would be able to. The test takes only a couple of minutes, no needles are involved, it is not painful and patients do not have to remove any clothing.

How does it work?

The person being tested is asked to breathe in fully, seal their lips around a mouthpiece, then blow out as hard, fast, and long as they can, usually about six seconds. A nose clip may be applied to ensure no air escapes from the nose.

What does a spirometry test measure?

A spirometry test measures airflow over time. The test provides two values which are helpful in determining the results, forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume measured over one second (FEV1). FVC is the total amount of air that can be blown out and FEV1 is the flow of air during the first second of the test. FEV1 divided by FVC determines the proportion of air in a person’s lungs that can be blown out in one second.

What do the results tell us?

The results from a spirometry test help determine if a person has any airflow problems that could be the result of COPD, asthma or restrictive lung disease. The results from this test can also identify smokers who are developing COPD and evaluate the effects of workplace exposure to lung irritants.

Who should be tested?

  • Current and former smokers
  • People 40 years of age and older
  • Anyone exposed to fumes, vapors, dust, or other lung irritants

Also, anyone who has:

  • A chronic cough
  • Pain, difficulty or wheezing while breathing
  • Fatigue or shortness of breath at rest, during light exercise or everyday activities
  • Restless sleep, snoring or sleep apnea
  • Weight loss, heart failure, fever, chills or osteoporosis
  • Are there any side effects?

Spirometry has very few side effects and is a very low risk test. When taking the test, a person may experience dizziness. Blowing out hard may cause an increase in pressure in the chest, abdomen, or eye.

People with unstable angina or anyone who had a recent heart attack or stroke are advised not to have a spirometry test. It is also recommended that anyone who recently had air trapped beneath the chest wall (pneumothorax) or recent eye or abdominal surgery should not have a spirometry test.