Teach patients to rinse after use of steroid inhaler

Tip of the Month

Inhaled corticosteroid therapy is the most effective controlling medication used for the treatment of asthma, says Steven D. Glow, RN, MSN, FNP, CEN, EMT-P, nursing faculty at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT, and former ED nurse at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, CO. "Unfortunately, some of the medication is deposited in the patient’s mouth during inhaler use," he says. "This can cause an overgrowth of the normal oral flora and result in the fungal infection known as thrush."

Patients discharged after treatment for thrush or with a new prescription for an inhaled steroid should be cautioned to rinse their mouths after using the steroid inhaler, says Glow. "However, many patients have difficulty remembering this important step," he says. "I counsel my patients to use the inhaler just prior to brushing their teeth. This will reduce the incidence of thrush as well as promote good dental hygiene."

[Editor’s Note: For more information, contact Steven D. Glow, RN, MSN, FNP, CEN, EMT-P, Salish Kootenai College, P.O. Box 117, 52000 Highway 93, Pablo, MT 59855. Telephone: (406) 275-4922. Fax: (406) 275-4806. E-mail: Steve_Glow@skc.edu.]