How to Use an Inhaler Correctly

Feb 24, 2023 | Action Plan, Asthma Care Standards, Control Your Asthma!

If you have an inhaler, you need to know how to use it properly to get the most benefit from your asthma medicine. Below, we cover the main types of inhalers and how to use them effectively.

What Is an Inhaler?

An inhaler helps to prevent asthma attacks and it relieves shortness of breath. There are four main types of inhalers. Which one you’re prescribed depends on your health needs.

  • Metered dose inhalers (MDIs): MDIs release medicine into your lungs in aerosol form in set doses. They’re a very popular type of inhaler for asthma and related conditions.
  • Dry powder inhalers (DPIs): DPIs send asthma medication into your lungs in powder form.
  • Soft mist inhalers (SMIs): SMIs release asthma medicine in a fine mist rather than aerosol form.
  • Nebulizers: Nebulizers release medicine in liquid form so that it’s absorbed very quickly by the lungs.

You may also have a rescue inhaler, which you should keep with you in case of unexpected asthma attacks.

Every inhaler comes with different potential side effects. Talk to your doctor or call Asthmaniac for an appointment if you’re unsure whether your inhaler is suitable for your needs.

Young woman wearing glasses sitting on navy sofa with hand over chest struggling to breathe waiting to take blue inhaler for asthma

How Often to Use an Inhaler

There’s no right answer to this because everyone has different health needs. Your doctor can tell you when – and how often – to use your inhaler. At Asthmaniac, we can review your medicine and check if your asthma is under control – call now for an appointment.

Let’s now break down how to properly use an inhaler, depending on which type of device you have.

How to Properly Use an MDI Inhaler With or Without a Spacer

Your MDI inhaler technique is key to getting the maximum benefit from your device, so here’s what to do.

  • If your inhaler comes with a spacer, place the device into the space first.
  • Then, shake the inhaler for around five seconds.
  • Using your thumb to support the base, hold the inhaler up and release a deep breath before using it.
  • Keep your tongue back from the chamber, but place your lips tight around the mouthpiece.
  • Breathe deep for a few seconds and hold the top down.
  • Hold your breath for another few seconds (ideally up to 10 seconds).
  • Breathe out and recap the mouthpiece (or take more puffs as directed).

Always have a doctor evaluate your technique if you’re unsure whether you’re using the inhaler correctly.

How to Use a Dry Powder Inhaler Properly

If you have a dry powder inhaler, here’s how to use it.

  • First, remove the cap from the inhaler.
  • Load the capsule or medicine into the device.
  • Let out a slow, deep breath before using the inhaler.
  • Make sure you put the mouthpiece firmly between your lips so medicine doesn’t leak out.
  • Take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, then release the inhaler.
  • After another few seconds, breathe out.

Follow any specific instructions as set by your doctor.

How to Use Soft Mist Inhalers

Like other inhalers, soft mist inhalers are simple for most people to use, but here are the main steps to follow.

  • With the cap still closed, hold the inhaler upright.
  • Click the base into position and release the cap.
  • Open the cap and let out a full deep breath before using the device.
  • Put the mouthpiece into your mouth, taking care not to cover the air vents on either side of the inhaler.
  • Press the inhaler button, take a deep breath in, and continue inhaling for a few seconds.
  • Remove the inhaler, exhale slowly, and replace the cap.

If your soft mist inhaler comes with specific manufacturer instructions, always follow them.

Using a Nebulizer

If you’re using a nebulizer, breathe in slowly. Relaxed breathing will help to ensure you get the most benefit from the device.

  • Wash your hands and clean the pieces.
  • Take the medication cup and pour the liquid medicine inside it.
  • Connect the tubing and mouthpiece or mask.
  • Place the mouthpiece into your mouth or the mask over your face.
  • Breathe in and breathe out fully.

It’s a good idea to check the nebulizer is misting properly before using it, too.

Learn More About How to Use an Inhaler Properly

Using an inhaler can be tricky. However, if you have asthma, it’s important that you know how to use an inhaler correctly. At Asthmaniac, we can help ensure that your asthma is under control and that you’re on the right inhaler for your health needs. Learn more or book now by calling 720-900-0943.


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