How to use an inhaler

One or more of the drugs needed to control your asthma symptoms will probably come in a device called a metered-dose inhaler. Drugs that are administered this way provide excellent and rapid control over asthma symptoms because they go directly to the source of the trouble - the airways. They are also less likely to cause side effects than medicines taken as tablets or liquids. Although it takes a little time and effort to learn how to use an inhaler properly, you will be rewarded by increased control over your troublesome asthma symptoms.

Before you start

These are general instructions for using inhalers. Your doctor will give you specific instructions for your particular medicine; follow these instructions carefully. Before you leave the doctor's office, be sure you understand all the information the doctor has given you about your inhaler. Wrong use of the inhaler could result in either too little or too much medication reaching your lungs.

How to use an inhaler

Using a spacer

If you have trouble inhaling at the same time you press down on the canister, your doctor may give you a device called a spacer, which makes the mouthpiece longer (see the second picture in the illustration above). Place the end of the spacer loosely between your teeth and seal your lips around it. With your head back, press the canister and inhale slowly and deeply. (It is not necessary to press the canister at exactly the same time as you inhale when using a spacer.) Hold your breath for 10 seconds and breathe out slowly.

Hints for successful inhaler use