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For Parents: Inhaled Asthma Medication for Your Child

Doctor giving instructions to male child patient using an inhaler with spacer. Child's mother is also present.Your child will most likely have at least one inhaled type of asthma medication. Which type depends on the kind of medication he or she takes. It can also depend on your child’s age and preference. Your child’s inhaler technique should be checked at each appointment with the health care provider. For infants and toddlers, you will have to help administer this medication to your child.

Metered Dose Inhaler (with Spacer)

A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) releases medication in a fine spray. A spacer (a tube or bag attached to the MDI) helps make sure more of the medication goes into the child’s lungs. This makes each dose work better. It also makes side effects less likely. To use an MDI with spacer, follow the package instructions. If you have questions about inhaler technique, ask your child’s health care provider. For an infant or toddler, the child breathes the spray through a mask held to his face. Your health care provider can show you the best way to use an MDI with a mask.

Girl taking asthma medicine.

Dry Powder Inhaler

This type of inhaler releases medication in tiny grains of powder. No spacer is needed. To use this inhaler, the child must be able to take a quick, deep breath. Read the package insert to learn how to use this inhaler. Make sure to check technique with the health care provider.

Woman holding small boy in lap, holding inhalation mask over his nose and mouth.

Nebulizer

A nebulizer turns medication into a fine mist. The child breathes in the mist through a mouthpiece or mask that fits on the face. Getting the full dose takes from 7 to 15 minutes. Nebulizers are sometimes used by infants or toddlers. They are usually not needed if a child is able to use an MDI with spacer properly.

 

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