How to use an inhaler - with spacer
Metered-dose inhaler (MDI) administration - with spacer; Asthma - inhaler with spacer; Reactive airway disease - inhaler with spacer; Bronchial asthma - inhaler with spacer
- Take the cap off the inhaler and spacer.
- Shake the inhaler hard.
- Attach the spacer to the inhaler.
- If you have not used the inhaler in a while, you may need to prime it. See the instructions that came with your inhaler for how to do this.
- Breathe out gently to empty your lungs.
Breathe in Slowly
- Put the spacer between your teeth and close your lips tightly around it.
- Keep your chin up.
- Start breathing in slowly through your mouth.
- Spray 1 puff into the spacer by pressing down on the inhaler.
- Keep breathing in slowly. Breathe as deeply as you can.
Hold Your Breath
- Take the spacer out of your mouth.
- Hold your breath as you count to 10, if you can.
- Pucker your lips and slowly breathe out through your mouth.
- After using your inhaler, rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine.
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. First, remove the metal canister from the L-shaped plastic mouthpiece. Rinse only the mouthpiece and cap in warm water. Let them air dry overnight. In the morning, put the canister back inside. Put the cap on. DO NOT rinse any other parts.
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.
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 not to get it too hot or puncture it.
Laube BL, Dolovich MB. Aerosols and aerosol drug delivery systems. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 66.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. How to use a metered-dose inhaler. Last revised March 2013.
Last reviewed on: 2/15/2016
Reviewed by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.