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How to use an inhaler - no spacer

Metered-dose inhaler (MDI) administration - no spacer; Bronchial nebulizer; Wheezing - nebulizer; Reactive airway - nebulizer; COPD - nebulizer; Chronic bronchitis - nebulizer; Emphysema - nebulizer

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Inhaler medication administration

Description

Using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) seems simple. But many people do not use them the right way. If you use your MDI the wrong way, less medicine gets to your lungs, and most remains in the back of your mouth. If you have a spacer, use it. It helps get more medicine into your airways.

(The instructions below are not for dry powder inhalers. They have different instructions.)

Getting Ready

Breathe in Slowly

Hold Your Breath

Keep Your Inhaler Clean

Look at the hole where the medicine sprays out of your inhaler. If you see powder in or around the hole, clean your inhaler.

Replacing Your Inhaler

Most inhalers come with counters on the canister. Keep an eye on the counter and replace the inhaler before you run out of medicine.

DO NOT put your canister in water to see if it is empty. This does not work.

Bring your inhaler to your clinic appointments. Your provider can make sure you are using it the right way.

Storing Your Inhaler

Store your inhaler at room temperature. It may not work well if it is too cold. The medicine in the canister is under pressure. So make sure you do not get it too hot or puncture it.

Related Information

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Asthma
Asthma in children
Asthma and allergy resources
Asthma - child - discharge
Asthma - control drugs
Asthma - quick-relief drugs
COPD - control drugs
COPD - quick-relief drugs
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
Exercising and asthma at school
Make peak flow a habit
Signs of an asthma attack
Stay away from asthma triggers
Asthma in adults - what to ask the doctor
COPD - what to ask your doctor

References

Laube BL, Dolovich MB. Aerosols and aerosol drug delivery systems. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O'Hehir RE, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 63.

Waller DG, Sampson AP. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In: Waller DG, Sampson AP, eds. Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 12.

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Review Date: 1/13/2020  

Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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