Asthma UK community forum
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Design Student needing some input


my name is Rocky and i'm a final year student at the university college for the creative arts @Rochester. I'm currently doing a project on healthcare products, specifically on asthma products such as inhalers. I was wondering if people on this forum can help. In order to for me to design something that is going to be useful to people, i first need to understand what people go though on a daily basis. However, i personally don't know anyone who has asthma. So it would be a great help if you could tell me how you go about your daily lives, what difficulties do you have, what good or bad experinces have you had? All this would be helpful to me in order to understand how people go about there lifes. I'm focusing more on how young people deal with the school and social enviroment, but input from parrents would be helpfull as well.

If you want to know more about my project please feel free to message me.

Thanks for your help


4 Replies

Hi Rocky,

Firstly its great to see someone taking an active interest in asthma. Are you asthmatic yourself?

I have had asthma for 26 years and have had a wide range of inhalers. The factors i faced growing up were the appearance of the devices, not the colour of them but the size and shape etc. Carrying a massive inhaler round at school was by no means 'cool'.

Also, a lot of inhalers now with the pressurised canisters (MDI) are used with spacer devices. Again these come in a range but can be problematic if large and need to be carried at all times.

Other inhalers are available called breath actuated so when you breath in the medication is released. There is dry powder inhalers and capsule inhalers so a wide range is avaialable.

When I was at school peer pressure was very influencial with asthma however I hope not so much now. It is important to remember when designing your device that the age range of asthmatics could be 0-99+. A device needs to be used by all, apeal to all and deliver the medication! If you need any more help please feel free to mail me.



Thanks Gavin

Finally someone replied! Yay! lol. Anyway, no i don't have asthma, but i've always had an interest in how design and technology can help improve people's lifes. No matter how big or small a difference it makes. As i said i'm currently doing a project on asthma inhalers and i just need people to post there experinces and any suggestions on what they would do to improve it.



Hi Rocky

The things I would suggest you need to consider are:

* every asthmatic is different - age, severity or frequency of symptoms, physical ability and their individual preferences for inhalers etc

* as previously mentioned there are already a lot of devices out there - what can you do that overcomes some of the issues.

My (and my daughter's) experiences are:

* I currently have 3 different meds via inhaler, and have 3 different types of inhaler to take... ventolin via MDI, symbicort via turbohaler and a budesonide top up via easyhaler, and I have also had an easybreathe form of ventolin inhaler (different again) in the past, as well as a seretide MDI with a counter that shows how many doses remain and a dust cap that prevents you setting it off by accident ... all have their own pros and cons...

* MDI works best when taken through a spacer, but these can be a real pain to cart around, especially the volumatic

* MDI is prone to getting fluff, dust, sand, you name it in the casing even if you keep the dust cover on the end... inhaling any of this when taking your inhaler is really not recommended...

* turbohaler is dry powder and you need to keep it out of damp conditions - so don't leave it in your pocket when doing the washing!

* it can be difficult totake the turbohaler if you're struggling to breathe

* the easyhaler comes in a huge box and has a separate dust cover, as well as a cap on the mouthpiece. Its also a dry powder inhaler, and in my experience thus far, after about 3/4 of the doses have been used it gets quite clunky when you try to reload it to use, and seems to get stuck - the best way I've found to clear that is to waste a dose or 2 as you try to empty the mechanism

* Most devices use plastic in some form or another - each MDI always comes with a new plastic casing - not very environmentally friendly!

* it can be easy to lose or misplace in a handbag, and can fall out oftrouser pockets when you sit down - I lost a ventolin last week climbing down a hill in the peak because it fell out of my pocket and I didn't notice.... (anybody find it on Parkhouse Hill on Saturday evening/Sunday???)

You can buy a range of covers from different suppliers (eg puffapouch) to overcome some issues but why not tackle these directly... eg a loop on the case to attach a lanyard or clip to hook on a belt etc, a better case that prevents dust etc lurking between the plastic and the canister, reusable casing so you can order just the insert, counters on all inhalers to show when running out

Also bear in mind that many people can be uncomfortable about using inhalers in public, so want them to be as discreet as possible - this can be really important for soome children at school.

Schools usually ask that you supply a spare inhaler and spacer and label them with child's name and supply details for dosage etc - it might be useful to provide some means on doing this - eg a marker area so that name / doses could be marked on the device.

Hope this is of use to you.



Hey thanks Kat

Loads of information here that i can get my teeth into! I realise that there is more than one type of inhalers and there is also dry powder inhalers, but i didnt know that once the inhaler was used that a new inhaler would be given. It does seem really wasteful to just throw away plastic just like that. But anyway thanks for the reply Kat, any suggestions or pieces of information will be useful.



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