An inhaler counter is a device used to track usage of a metered dose inhaler, a medical device that provides medications most commonly used in the treatment of asthma. The inhaler is designed to express a precisely measured amount of medication when activated by the patient. Tracking dose usage can be useful for patient compliance, as well as asthma management plans. These devices are sometimes built into inhalers and they can also be purchased and attached to inhalers.
The most basic inhaler counter simply records every instance when the inhaler is activated. People can use this to keep track of how many doses of medication they have left in their inhalers, as inhalers are designed to deliver a set number of doses. This can be used to alert patients when they need to order new inhalers. These devices are usually mechanical, clicking over to a new number every time the inhaler is used.
Digital inhaler counters are capable of storing information. This can be used to generate data about inhaler usage over a period of time, such as a month, in addition to warning patients when an inhaler is low. Patients who have trouble remembering medications can check to see if they have taken their medications on a given day and an inhaler counter can also be set to send alerts to the patient when it's time for a dose. For patients wanting to track the success of an asthma management plan, being able to chart the number of inhaler uses per day with an inhaler counter can be useful; an uptick in use suggests a problem is developing, while stable use shows that the patient's asthma is remaining under control.
Inhaler products sold with built-in inhaler counters tend to be slightly more expensive than brands without counters, as they cost more to make. Multi-use inhaler counters designed to fit onto an inhaler vary in cost, but can be used over and over again, making them a good investment for some patients. Sometimes they are available for free as a promotion through pharmacists or doctors and people interested in trying an inhaler counter may want to ask about the availability of a free product.
It is important to use correct technique when inhaling medications. If patients do not take the medication as directed, it will not be as effective. This may cause patients to receive inadequate dosages or may increase dependence on an inhaler because a patient has to take more doses than normal to get the benefit of the medication. Patients who are not sure about how to use their inhalers properly can ask for assistance and a demonstration from a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.