Is arthritis or another condition making your fingers stiff or weak? If so, managing an inhaler can be quite a task, particularly a metered-dose inhaler, which requires careful coordination of breathing and inhaler activation.

Potential solutions. Ask your doctor about using a spacer or holding chamber. These devices hold the medication for a few seconds after it has been released from the inhaler. This delay can be helpful for people who have difficulty coordinating their breathing with the use of an inhaler.

Alternatively, ask your doctor if you might be able to use a medication delivered through a dry-powder inhaler. These inhalers are triggered by your breath, eliminating the need to coordinate your inhalation with the release of the medication. One study found that only 17 percent of older adults had trouble using a dry-powder inhaler, compared with 46 percent of those with a metered-dose inhaler. A nebulizer is also an option if you have difficulty using an inhaler.

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 14 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2013