Tips on Using an Inhaler for Asthma or COPD

The use of a metered-dose inhaler’s (MDI) commonly known as an inhaler appears easy. However, a lot of people end up not using them properly. This leads to less effective treatment and less than optimal relief of symptoms.  When you use your inhaler or MDI incorrectly, less medication enters your lungs and more of it stays in your mouth. Use a spacer if you have one. More medication enters your airways with its assistance and makes use easier.

You might need to prime the inhaler if you have not used it in a while. For details on when and how to do this, refer to the instructions that come with your inhaler. Below are some of the instructions in a simplified format.
1. Remove the cap.
2. Check the inside of the mouthpiece to make sure nothing is within it so nothing will accidently enter your breathing passages.
3. Before each usage, shake the inhaler thoroughly 10 to 15 times.
4. Let all your breath out. Try to exhale as much air as you can.

  1. Keep the mouthpiece firmly into the inhaler. To create a tight seal, place your lips all the way around the mouthpiece.
  2. Press the inhaler down once as you begin to inhale slowly through your mouth.
  3. Continue to inhale slowly and as deeply as you can.

    8. Remove your inhaler from your mouth. Hold your breath as you slowly count to 10, if you can. This enables the medication to penetrate your lungs deeply.

  4. Pucker your lips and slowly exhale through your mouth.
  5. Wait one to two minutes before taking your next breath if you are utilizing a beta-agonist, an inhalation medication that provides fast relief. For some medications, there is no need to wait in between breaths.
  6. Reinstall the mouthpiece’s cap and make sure it is tightly closed.
  7. After using your inhaler you should gargle, spit, and then rinse your mouth with water. Do not ingest the water. This lessens the negative effects of your medication.

    It is important to keep your inhaler clean. Try and look at the inhaler’s medicine spraying hole. Clean your inhaler if you notice powder in or around the hole.

Remove the plastic L-shaped mouthpiece from the metal canister.

Only the mouthpiece and cap should be washed in warm water. Do not wash the actual container of the medicine with water. Overnight air drying is advised if the cap or mouthpiece has been washed. Re-install the canister inside in the morning. Put on the cap. Never rinse any other parts.

On the canister of many inhalers are counters. Before you run out of medicine, keep an eye on the counter and refill the inhaler. Never submerge your canister to see if it is empty. This does not work. When you visit the clinic, bring your inhaler. Your service provider can ensure that you are utilizing it properly.

Your inhaler should be kept at room temperature. If it is too chilly, it might not function correctly. There is pressure on the medication in the canister. Therefore, be careful not to overheat it or puncture it. Having your inhaler in good working condition with an appropriate amount of medication and understanding how to use it accurately and appropriately is important to your ability to breathe well.