Medication Myths

It's common for people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to not know how to take their medications, says Kurt Goerke, area director for the American Lung Association in Florida. Here are two common myths around COPD medications.

Myth #1

As long as you're puffing on your inhaler, you're getting your medication.

Not necessarily. First, you need to prime the inhaler. "That involves shaking it and spraying out a dose or two into the air to clear out any debris and make sure you're getting a well-metered dose," Goerke says.

Myth #2

Once you prime the inhaler, you're guaranteed to get the dose you need.

Think again. "The number-one problem when people spray a rescue inhaler into their mouth is that the medicine hits the back of their throat," Goerke notes. That can cause irritation, but worse, it means that the medication is not going where it's needed: the lungs. A device called a spacer, Goerke says, can be added to the inhaler to help ensure the best results from your inhaler.