How to Use an Inhaler Without a Spacer

The hydrofluoroalkane inhaler or HFA (formerly metered dose inhaler or MDI) is used to deliver asthma medication.

  1. Take the cap off your inhaler and shake it well.
  2. Hold the inhaler with your index finger on top of the 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 inhaler about 2 inches in front of your mouth. (Or you can put the HFA in your mouth, between your teeth, tongue flat under the mouthpiece with your lips sealed.)
  5. Breathe in and out one time.
  6. Press the metal canister down and breathe as deeply as you can for about 3 to 5 seconds
  7. Hold your breath for the length of time specified for the medicine you are taking to allow the medication to reach your lungs.
  8. Wait at least a minute, then repeat for each puff your doctor tells you to take.
  9. Replace the cap on your inhaler when you’re finished. If your inhaler contains a steroid, gargle and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after each use.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 19, 2019
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