Using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) seems simple, but many people do not use them the right way. If you use your MDI the wrong way, less medicine gets to your lungs. If you have a spacer, you should use it because it helps get more of the medicine into your airways.
(Note: The instructions below are not for dry powder inhalers. They have different instructions.)
Breathe in Slowly
Hold Your Breath
Keep Your Inhaler Clean
Look at the hole where the medicine sprays out of your inhaler. If you see powder in or around the hole, clean the inhaler. First, remove the metal canister from the L-shaped plastic mouthpiece. Rinse only the mouthpiece and cap in warm water. Let them air dry overnight. In the morning, put the canister back inside. Put the cap on. Do not rinse any other parts.
Replacing Your Inhaler
For control medicines you take each day, write the date you need to replace it on the canister.
To figure out this date, use the number of puffs you take each day and the number of puffs your canister contains. For example, say your new canister has 200 puffs (number of puffs is listed on canister) and your doctor tells you to take 8 puffs each day. This canister will last 25 days. If you started using this inhaler on May 1, replace it on or before May 25. Write May 25 on your canister.
Do NOT put your canister in water to see if it is empty. This does not work.
Bring your inhaler to your clinic appointments. Your doctor can make sure you are using it the right way.
Metered-dose inhaler (MDI) administration - no spacer
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publications 08-4051.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Inc.
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