How to Use an Inhaler

The first step you will take with your inhaler is to prime it before you use it the first time. It should also be primed if you haven't used it for 2 weeks or if it has been dropped. Check the instructions that came with your inhaler for specifics, but here are some general guidelines: Insert the canister, bottom up, into the holder. Shake the inhaler vigorously, take the cap off, point it away from you, and spray. Repeat this shaking and spraying process three or four times. Now your inhaler is ready to use.

Using the inhaler

  • Make sure the cap is off the mouthpiece.
  • You may want to use a spacer, a tube that carries medicine from the inhaler directly to the mouth. A spacer lets patients breathe at their own pace and helps deliver the medicine deep into the airways. Spacers are especially helpful for young children and people taking corticosteroids. Ask your doctor if you're not sure if a spacer would be right for you. If you're using a spacer, attach the spacer to the inhaler.
  • Breathe out, releasing as much air as possible.
  • If you're using a spacer, put one hand around the spacer and one hand firmly around the inhaler, and place your mouth firmly around the end of the spacer.
  • If you're not using a spacer, place the mouthpiece into your mouth and close your lips around it tightly.
  • Breathe in deeply as you press down as far as you can on the top of the canister. After the spray comes out, take your finger off the canister.
  • After you have inhaled as much as you can in one breath, take the inhaler out of your mouth and close your mouth. Hold your breath as long as you can, up to 10 seconds, then breathe normally.
  • If your doctor has prescribed more than one spray, wait one minute, shake the inhaler, and repeat the process, starting with exhaling as much air as you can.
  • You can clean the plastic mouthpiece periodically by separating it from the canister and washing it with warm soap and water. Allow it to air dry and put the two pieces back together for your next use.

Dry-powder inhaler:

  • Put your mouth around the mouthpiece tightly and inhale quickly and deeply. Remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for 10 seconds before exhaling.

References

Asthma Society of Canada, How to use your inhaler, http://www.asthma.ca/adults/treatment/meteredDoseInhaler.php

Ventolin HFA Product Instructions.

How to use ProAir HFA.

PrventilHFA. Using Your Inhaler.

Next Generation Inhalers: What This Means for You. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Patient information: Asthma inhaler techniques in adults. UpToDate.com.

HFA Propellant. National Jewish Health.

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