Background information

  • Lung diseases are responsible for more than 700,000 hospital admission and over 6 million inpatient bed-days in the UK each year.
  • One in five people in the UK has asthma, COPD or another long-term respiratory illness. Half of them are currently on treatment (mainly inhalers) for lung disease (British Lung Foundation, Lung disease in the UK.
  • Correct inhaler technique is essential to maximise the deposition of asthma medication into the lungs and optimise the management of the disease.
  • Assessing and training inhaler technique is a vital part of any clinical respiratory disease review. Different inhalers and inhaler techniques are appropriate for different patients, therefore expert guidance for patients on an individual basis is provided by appropriately trained healthcare professionals.

Asthma Treatment:

People with asthma usually need two different inhalers:

  • a preventer (brown, pink, red, orange etc;) and
  • a reliever (generally blue).

The preventer inhaler is often forgotten about but is one of the most important parts of asthma treatment.

A pMDI also known as a “puffer”, is the most common inhaler device used in the UK. There are lots of different coloured devices, and the colour indicates the type of medicine inside the inhaler. Too often the media depicts people with blue reliever inhalers used incorrectly. This over promotion of reliever inhalers reinforces a perception that this is the most important inhaler.

However, from the National Review of Asthma Deaths in 2014 we have evidence that overuse and reliance on blue inhalers was frequently a causal factor in mortality. It would be best if images depicting preventer inhalers were used rather than blue inhalers as this would demonstrate good asthma management.


This picture shows the WRONG way to take inhalers yet are considered to be the “normal” way to take inhalers by many.


This picture shows the correct way inhalers should be taken using a spacer – spacers are not just for children, adults should use them too.


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