How To Use An Inhaler

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How To Use An Inhaler

Asthma
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How To Use Treatment And Monitoring Devices
How To Use An Inhaler
How To Use An Inhaler
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Most inhaled asthma medications come in containers called metered-dose inhalers, or MDIs. However, they can be a little tricky, at first.
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InteliHealth
2008-12-03
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2010-12-03

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

How To Use An Inhaler

Most inhaled asthma medications come in containers called metered-dose inhalers, or MDIs. These are small and portable; you easily can carry one with you. MDIs have made it easier to take inhaled asthma medications because most have a gas-propelled mechanism that dispenses measured doses of the drugs. However, they can be a little tricky, at first.

The trickiest parts to using an inhaler are getting it the right distance from your mouth and timing your inhalation with the spray of medication. If your inhaler is inside your mouth, you may end up with medication hitting only the back of your throat and not getting into the lungs. If the inhaler is too far away from your mouth, you won't be able to breathe in enough of the medication.

It can take some time to get used to using an inhaler. Make sure you review your technique with a health-care provider if you are unsure of yourself. If you are using a beta-agonist (albuterol inhaler of the short-acting/reliever type), you should start to feel the medicine working within a few minutes when you are using it the correct way.

For many people, a spacer attached to the inhaler helps to take the guesswork out of how close to the mouth to put the inhaler. It attaches to the inhaler so that you can put your lips around the spacer.

Others may need the turbuhaler to help coordinate the timing of breathing with the medication release. Instead of having to press on the canister, your inhalation breath triggers the release of medication.

Here's how to use a gas-propelled MDI correctly:
  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler.
  • Attach the spacer to the inhaler if necessary.
  • Exhale slowly and steadily.
  • If you are using a spacer or a spacer comes attached to your inhaler, place the spacer mouthpiece in your mouth, past your front teeth. If you are not using a spacer, you can either place the mouthpiece in your mouth, past your front teeth (similar to what you do with a spacer), or place the inhaler one to two inches in front of your open mouth.
  • Start to inhale slowly and at the same time press the canister once to release a dose of the medicine. Continue to inhale very slowly and as deeply as possible.
  • Hold your breath for about 10 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly and steadily.
  • Repeat as instructed by your doctor.
  • After using a corticosteroid inhaler, rinse your mouth with water and spit out to avoid thrush.
  • Keep the cap on when it's not in use, and wash your inhaler in water and a mild detergent once a week.

 

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Last updated December 03, 2008


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