Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
People who have lung conditions, like asthma or COPD, often take their medications using a hand-held device called a metered dose inhaler, or MDI.
A metered-dose inhaler sprays medicine through your mouth…
...so that it can reach your airways.
If your inhaler is not used the right way, some medicine may not enter your mouth, or some may remain in the back of your mouth. Either way, it may not reach your airways where it is needed.
This video will show you the general steps for using an inhaler correctly.
It’s important to follow the instructions that came with your metered-dose inhaler.
A metered-dose inhaler has three main parts:
the mouthpiece cover;
the plastic sleeve with a mouthpiece;
and the medicine container.
Before using your metered-dose inhaler, remove the mouthpiece cap,
and shake the inhaler.
If this is the first time you are using your inhaler, or if you haven’t used it in a while, you may need to prime it.
Check the instructions for how and when to do this with your inhaler, as they can differ depending on the type of inhaler and medicine.
When you’re ready to use your inhaler, stand or sit up straight.
Breathe in deeply,
and breathe out completely to empty your lungs.
After shaking the inhaler, put the mouthpiece in your mouth, and close your lips around it to form a tight seal.
As you breathe in through your mouth, press down firmly on the top of your inhaler to release one puff of medicine.
Keep breathing in slowly through your mouth for three to five seconds until your lungs are completely full.
It is recommended to hold your breath for approximately ten counts.
Finally, breathe out slowly through your mouth.
If your medicine dose requires two puffs, you may need to wait before taking the second puff. Follow the instructions that came with your inhaler to know how long to wait between puffs.
After using a steroid inhaler, rinse out your mouth with water and spit it out.
It’s important to keep your inhaler clean so that it works properly.
Check your inhaler’s instructions for the right way to clean it.
Proper use of your metered-dose inhaler may help you control the symptoms of your lung condition. If you have questions about the use of your inhaler, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist. Ask them to watch you use your inhaler to see if you are using it properly.