Metered-dose inhaler (MDI) administration - with spacer
Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) usually have 3 parts:
If you use your inhaler the wrong way, less medicine gets to your lungs. A spacer device will help. The spacer connects to the mouthpiece. The inhaled medicine goes into the spacer tube first. Then you take two deep breaths to get the medicine into your lungs. Using a spacer wastes a lot less medicine than spraying the medicine into your mouth.
Spacers come in different shapes and sizes. Ask your doctor which spacer is best for you or your child. Almost all children can use a spacer. You do not need a spacer for dry powder inhalers.
The steps below tell you how to take your medicine with a spacer.
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 your 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 on the canister the date you need to replace it.
To figure out this date, divide the number of puffs your canister contains by the number of puffs you take each day. For example, if your new canister has 200 puffs (the number of puffs is listed on canister), and your doctor tells you to take 8 puffs each day, this canister should 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.
Some inhalers come with counters on the canister. Keep an eye on the counter and replace the inhaler before you run out of medicine.
Puff counters can also be bought at a drugstore or online.
Do not put your canister in water to see if it is empty. This does not work.
Storing your inhaler
Store your inhaler at room temperature. It may not work well if it is too cold. The medicine in the canister is under pressure. So make sure not to get it too hot or puncture it.
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.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. How to use a metered-dose inhaler. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/asthma_tipsheets.pdf. Accessed May 8, 2014.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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