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Asthma Inhalers


How Do I Use an Asthma Inhaler Correctly? continued...

To use an asthma inhaler (MDI) without a spacer:

  1. Remove the cap from the asthma inhaler and shake it well.
  2. Hold the asthma inhaler by placing your index finger on top of the metal canister and thumb on the bottom of the plastic mouthpiece.
  3. Sit up straight or stand up. Tilt your head back slightly and breathe out all the way.
  4. Open your mouth wide, and place the asthma inhaler about 2 inches in front of your mouth. (Or you can put the MDI in your mouth, between your teeth, tongue flat under the mouthpiece with your lips sealed.)  
  5. Breathe in and out one time.
  6. As you begin to inhale on your next breath, press the metal canister down. Breathe in slowly and as deeply as you can. You should breathe in for about three to five seconds
  7. Hold your breath for at least 10 seconds to allow the medication to deposit in your lungs.
  8. After waiting at least one minute, repeat steps 1-7 for each puff of medication ordered.
  9. Replace the cap on your asthma inhaler when you are finished. If you are using an asthma inhaler that contains a steroid, gargle and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after each use.

To use an asthma inhaler (MDI) with a mask spacer:

Mask spacers are used for small children who are unable to properly use a spacer with a mouthpiece. These are usually used for children from infancy through about age 5. Occasionally, due to other medical conditions, adults and older children may not be able to properly use the standard spacer. Large masks are available for these patients.

  1. Remove the cap from the asthma inhaler and shake it well.
  2. Place the asthma inhaler in the soft ring at the end of the spacer opposite the mask.
  3. Place the mask securely over your child's nose and mouth, making sure there is a good seal.
  4. Spray one puff of medication into the spacer.
  5. Hold the mask firmly in place while your child takes six breaths.
  6. Wait about one minute.
  7. Repeat the above steps for each puff of medication ordered.
  8. When completed, remove asthma inhaler from spacer.
  9. If using a corticosteroid asthma inhaler, wash the face with mild soap and water after use to remove medication. If possible, also rinse your child's mouth with water.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on December 16, 2012
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