Pediatric Drugs

, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp 629–638

Use of Inhaler Devices in Pediatric Asthma

Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/00148581-200305090-00005

Cite this article as:
de Benedictis, F.M. & Selvaggio, D. Pediatr-Drugs (2003) 5: 629. doi:10.2165/00148581-200305090-00005


Inhalation is the preferred route for asthma therapy, since it offers a rapid onset of drug action, requires smaller doses, and reduces systemic effects compared with other routes of administration. Unfortunately, inhalation devices are frequently used in an empirical manner rather than on evidence-based awareness.

A wide variety of nebulizers are available. Conventional jet nebulizers are highly inefficient, as much of the aerosol is wasted during exhalation. However, incorporating an extra open vent into the system has considerably increased the amount of drug that patients receive. Breath-assisted open vent nebulizers limit the loss of aerosol during exhalation, but are dependent on the patient’s inspiratory flow. Ultrasonic nebulizers produce a high mass output and have a short nebulization time, but are inefficient for delivering suspensions or viscous solutions. Adaptive aerosol delivery devices release a precise dose that is tailored to the individual patient’s breathing pattern. Nebulizers have several drawbacks, and their use should be limited to patients who cannot correctly manage other devices.

Pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDI) are practical, cheap and multidose. However, there are several problems with their use. Breath-actuated MDI are easy to use and can be activated by very low flow. However, young children may not be able to use them efficiently. Dry powder inhalers (DPI) are portable and easy to use. They are indicated either for rescue bronchodilator therapy or for regular treatment with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators. The use of spacers reduces oropharyngeal deposition and improves drug delivery to the lung. Spacers do not require patient coordination, but some general rules must be followed for their optimal use.

Thus, the choice of a delivery device mainly depends on the age of the patient, the drug to be administered and the condition to be treated. Proper education is also essential when prescribing an inhalation device.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Maria de Benedictis
    • 1
  • David Selvaggio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics“Salesi” Children’s HospitalAnconaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric Medicine“Salesi” Children’s HospitalAnconaItaly