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Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs): How to Use One When You Have COPD

How do I use a metered dose inhaler with a spacer?

These are the general steps for using a spacer. Be sure to read the instructions that come with yours. They may be slightly different.

  1. Remove the caps from the metered dose inhaler and spacer.
  2. Insert the inhaler into the open end of the spacer.
  3. Shake the inhaler for a few seconds.
  4. Breathe out completely.
  5. Place the mouthpiece of the spacer between your teeth. Seal your lips tightly around it.
  6. Press the canister once.
  7. Breathe in slowly through your mouth for about 3 to 5 seconds. If you hear a hornlike sound, slow down. This means you are breathing too quickly.
  8. Hold your breath for at least 10 seconds.
  9. If your doctor prescribed more than one puff of COPD medication, wait about 1 minute and repeat steps 3-8.
  10. Remove the spacer from the inhaler and replace the caps on the inhaler and spacer.
  11. Gargle and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.

 

How do I care for my inhalers and spacer?

Here are some basic guidelines for caring for metered dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers, but be sure to follow any additional instructions your doctor gives you.

  • Use a dry cloth to wipe away powder or residue from your inhaler. Only use water if your health care provider recommends it.
  • Clean a spacer every other day - or once a week if you use it rarely. Remove the soft ring at the end of the spacer. Soak the spacer and ring in warm water with mild detergent. Rinse the ring and spacer in warm water. Let the ring and spacer air dry.
  • Do not store your metered dose inhaler or dry powder inhaler near heat or an open flame.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD on July 02, 2013