Using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) seems simple, but most patients do not
use it the right way. When you use your MDI the wrong way, less medicine gets
to your lungs. (Note: Dry powder inhalers require different instructions.)
- Take off the cap and shake the inhaler hard.
- Breathe out all the way.
- Hold the inhaler 1 - 2 inches in front of your mouth (about the width of
two fingers). Alternatively, place the MDI into a spacer and insert the spacer
into your mouth.
Breathe in slowly
- Start breathing in slowly through your mouth, and then press down on the
inhaler one time. (If you use a spacer, first press down on the inhaler.
Within 5 seconds, begin to breathe in slowly.)
- Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can.
Hold your breath
- Hold your breath as you count to 10 slowly, if you can. This lets the medicine
reach deep into your lungs.
- For inhaled quick-relief medicine (beta-agonists), wait about 1 minute
between puffs. There is no need to wait between puffs for other medicines.
- Rinse your mouth afterward, to help reduce unwanted side effects.
Clean your inhaler as needed
Look at the hole where the medicine sprays out from your inhaler. If you see
powder in or around the hole, clean the inhaler. Remove the metal canister
from the L-shaped plastic mouthpiece. Rinse only the mouthpiece and cap in
warm water. Let them dry overnight. In the morning, put the canister back inside.
Put the cap on.
Know when to replace your inhaler
For control medicines you take each day, write the date you need to replace
it on the canister.
For example, say your new canister has 200 puffs (number of puffs is listed
on canister) and you are told to take 8 puffs per day. This canister will last
25 days. If you started using this inhaler on May 1, replace it on or before
May 25. Write the date on your canister.
Do NOT put your canister in water to see if it is empty. This does not work.
Don't forget to bring your inhaler with you to medical appointments,
so your doctor can make sure you are still using it correctly.
Created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Modified by A.D.A.M.,
Review Date: 5/16/2007
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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