How to use a metered dose inhaler

Inhalers are hand-held devices that helps get medication into the lungs. There are many types of inhalers that exists and they contain different types of medication. Today we will talk of the most common type known as the metered dose inhalers (MDIs) also known as aerosol inhalers or puffers.

Using an inhaler properly is not as easy as it seems and knowing how to properly use one helps you better manage your respiratory illness and reduce side effects.  Regularly check your inhaler techniques with your healthcare provider. Here are a few tips on how to use your inhaler

  • Remove the cap from the mouthpiece, hold inhaler upright and shake
  • Tilt head slightly back and breathe out gently
  • Put the mouthpiece in the mouth between teeth and over the tongue (do not bite) close your lips around the mouth piece.
  • Start to breathe in slowly through the mouth and at the same time, press down on the inhaler to release a dose of the medicine. Keep breathing in till you feel your lungs are full.
  • Hold your breathe for 5-10s then breathe out slowly.
  • If second dose needed, wait approximately 1min and repeat the above steps.
  • Replace the cap and store inhaler properly (at room temperature)

Other tips

  • If inhaler is new or not used for a long time, you will have to test it. Read drug label to know how to for different types of inhalers. A general tip is to hold the inhaler away from the body, press down the inhaler once. A fine mist should be puffed in the air. Then is your inhaler ready to use.
  • Keep inhaler clean regularly by rinsing the mouth piece and air drying
  • If using a corticosteroid, rinse mouth and spit out (do not swallow)
  • If using one hand to press down on inhaler is difficult, use both hands.
  • If using more than one type of inhaler, make sure you are taking them in the right order, for example, take bronchodilators before corticosteroids.

Do not forget to get your health care provider regularly check your technique.

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