Metered Dose Inhalers

Southeast Lung Associates- METERED DOSE INHALER: How to use it
Using a metered-dose inhaler is a good way to take asthma medicines. There are few side effects because the medicine goes right to the lungs and not to other parts of the body. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes for inhaled Beta2-agonists to have an effect compared to the liquid or pill form, which can take 15 minutes to 1 hour. Inhalers can be used by all asthma patients age 5 and older. A spacer or holding chamber attached to the inhaler can help make taking the medicine easier.
The inhaler must be cleaned often to prevent buildup that will clog it or reduce how well it works.
  • The guidelines that follow will help you use the inhaler the correct way.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse to show you how to use the inhaler.
  1. Remove the cap and hold the inhaler upright.
  2. Shake the inhaler.
  3. Tilt your head back slightly and breathe out.
  4. Use the inhaler in any one of those ways. (A and B are the best ways. B is recommended for young children, older adults, and those taking inhaled steroids. C is okay if you are having trouble with A or B).
  5. Open mouth with inhaler 1 to 2 inches away.
  6. Use spacer (ask for handout on spacers).
  7. Put inhaler in mouth and seal lips around the mouthpiece.
  8. Press down on the inhaler to release the medicine as you start to breathe in slowly.
  9. Breathe in slowly for 3 to 5 seconds.
  10. Hold your breath for 10 seconds to allow the medicine to reach deeply into your lungs.
  11. Repeat puffs as prescribed. Waiting 1 minute between puffs may permit the second puff to go deeper into the lungs.
Note: Dry powder capsules are used differently. To use a dry powder inhaler, close your mouth tightly around the mouthpiece and inhaler very fast.
  1. Once a day clean the inhaler and cap by rinsing it in warm running water. Let it dry before you use it again. Have another inhaler to use while it is drying. Do not put the canister holding cromolyn or nodocromil in water.
  2. Twice a week, wash the L-shaped plastic mouthpiece with mild dishwashing soap and warm water. Rinse and dry well before putting the canister back inside the mouthpiece.
  1. Check the canister label to see how many “puffs” it contains.
  2. Figure out how many puffs you will take per day (e.g,. 2 puffs, 4 times a day = 8 puffs a day). Divide this number into the number of puffs contained in the canister. This tells you how long the canister should last.
Example: Canister contains 200 puffs. You take 2 puffs, 4 times a day which equals 8 puffs/day. 200/8 = 25. The canister will last 25 days.


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