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Asthmatics Often Find Inhalers Empty in Emergencies

Only 36 percent of patients report that they were advised to count doses used

MONDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- One-quarter of asthmatics using bronchodilators report having found their pressurized metered-dose inhalers empty during an asthma attack, researchers report in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Bradley E. Chipps, M.D., of the Capital Allergy & Respiratory Disease Center in Sacramento, Calif., and colleagues interviewed 500 randomly selected participants with asthma about their pressurized metered-dose inhalers.

The researchers found that 31.6 percent of interviewees used an inhaled corticosteroid combination, inhaled corticosteroid or bronchodilator for shortness of breath or wheezing. Of 342 interviewees using bronchodilators, 31.9 percent used inhalers every day.

While 53.8 percent of bronchodilator users refilled their prescriptions more often than necessary, only 36 percent said they were advised to tally numbers of doses used. Twenty-five percent said they had discovered their inhalers empty during an asthma attack, and seven patients said they needed to call 911.

"Patients do not have a reliable means of monitoring the contents of their metered-dose inhalers, which is causing serious problems that need to be addressed," the authors write. "Given the necessity of a reliable dose-counting method, it is clear that manufacturers should include dose counters as a standard feature of every metered-dose inhaler."

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