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Anticholinergic Inhaler

- Atrovent®

Atrovent opens the airways by blocking signals from the nervous system which cause the airways to become contracted. It takes one to two hours to reach its maximum effect; therefore, it shouldn't be used as an immediate emergency medication.

Side effects
There are few side effects, a bad taste is probably the only one.

  • Theophylline
  • TheoDur®
  • Uniphyll®
  • Phyllocontin®
  • TheoLair®

Theophylline is an oral bronchodilator which works directly to relax the airway muscle.

It can be used at night-time if shortness of breath disturbs sleep or more frequently if the asthma condition is very severe. Theophylline levels can be affected by other medications – so it's important the physician is aware of all medications asthmatics are taking, including over-the-counter drugs.

Side effects include:

- Diarrhoea
- Nausea
- Heartburn
- Loss of appetite
- Headaches
- Nervousness
- Rapid heart beat
- Upset stomach

Theophylline is not now commonly used in the treatment of asthma.

Medications: Inhalation Devices

Asthma medications come in many forms

    * Metered Dose Inhaler (puffer)
    * Dry Powder Inhalers (Diskhaler®, Turbuhaler®)
    * Nebulizer

Metered dose inhalers, MDI, or puffers, deliver an exact dose of medication to the airways when used correctly. Unfortunately many asthma sufferers don't use MDI's correctly and don't receive the correct dosage. Therefore if the asthma sufferer can't use a puffer, a holding chamber may be needed.

One advantage of using an MDI is it is very portable.
How to Use a Metered Dose Inhaler Correctly

    * remove the cap from the mouthpiece and shake the inhaler
    * breathe out to the end of a normal breath
    * position the mouthpiece end of the inhaler about 2-3 finger widths from your mouth
    * open your mouth widely and tilt your head back slightly or alternatively close your lips around the mouthpiece
    * start to breathe in slowly, then depress the container once
    * continue breathing in slowly until the lungs are full
    * once you have breathed in fully, HOLD your breath for 10 seconds or as long as you can
    * if you need a second puff, wait one minute and repeat the steps

Taking Care of a Metered Dose Inhaler

   1. Keep the inhaler clean.
   2. Wash the mouth piece
   3. Check the expiry date.
   4. Check to see how much medication is in the inhaler.

Holding chambers are devices with one-way valves which hold the medication for a few seconds after it has been released from the puffer. They used by people who:

  • Have trouble coordinating the hand-breath step
  • Are using high-dose steroids.

Using a holding chamber can prevent

   1. A hoarse voice
   2. A sore throat.

Care of the holding chamber

Whichever holding chamber is used, it must be cleaned at least once a week with warm water, and air dried.

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