This small device is similar to a metered dose inhaler (MDI), but the drug
is in powder form. The patient exhales out a full breath, places the lips around
the mouthpiece, then quickly breathes in the powder. Note that the technique
is different than for MDIs — dry powder inhalers do not require the timing
and coordination that are necessary with MDIs. There are other important differences,
so make sure that you always know the proper technique for the method you are
Dry powder inhalers are becoming more common, in part because they do not
use the "CFC" propellant that used to be in all MDIs. (CFCs damage the ozone
and will be phased out of MDIs in the next few years.) Dry powder inhalers
are as effective as MDIs — in fact, some may prove to be slightly more effective.
Naturally, there are several disadvantages. If the patient exhales directly
toward the device, the powder can be blown out. Also, much of the powder ends
up in the mouth, which can cause unwanted side effects — this is similar to
what happens when a patient puts an MDI directly into their mouth. As with
MDIs, it is recommended that you wash your mouth after administering the drug.
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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