Understanding the Respiratory System
If you have been diagnosed with a lung condition, it’s important to have a general understanding of it and how the treatment works.
The respiratory system allows air to travel in and out of the body and is made up of different components. We breathe in air through our mouth or nose, which travels down our windpipe (also known as the trachea), and into the lungs. Oxygen then transfers into the bloodstream through small air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. When we exhale, the waste gas CO² is pushed out of the lungs.
For asthmatics, this process is compromised as the trachea that air travels through, becomes tight, especially during an asthma attack. Generally, the medicine in inhalers helps the muscles around the lungs to relax. Inhalers are effective as the medicine travels directly to the lungs with an almost immediate effect. For some people, getting used to how an inhaler works can be tricky, especially for those with limited lung capacity.
Aero chambers, also known as spacers, are very helpful for inhaling medication. This useful device can be used with most standard inhalers. It provides a much easier way of inhaling medicine, particularly for children who may find it hard to user an inhaler on its own. It works by providing a chamber or space for the medication to be kept in, which allows the user more time to breathe in the full dose.
Peak flow meters:
Another useful device is the peak flow meter which measures one’s lung capacity – the peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). The user takes a deep breath and blows as hard and as long as they can into the meter. The marker moves up the scale to indicate the lung capacity.
Peak flow meters can be used every day to help identify the early stages of a decreasing lung capacity. For some people, using a peak flow meter is an absolute staple in managing asthma or other lung conditions. They can also be helpful to monitor how effective the medication is over time as an increased PEFR indicates an improved lung capacity and that the medication is working well.