How To Use A Metered-dose Inhaler
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) is a handheld inhaler that contains medicine in mist form. A MDI is used to inhale (breathe in) medicine.
Most common ways to use a MDI:
Methods 1 and 2 can be used for all inhaler medicines. Method 3 should not be used for inhaled steroid medicine but can be used for other types of asthma medicine:
- Method 1: Hold the inhaler 1 to 2 inches in front of your mouth (about 2 to 3 finger widths).
- Method 2: You may be given a spacer to use with your inhaler. This is a tube that is put on the mouthpiece of the inhaler. The spacer slows the mist going into your mouth and throat and may make it easier to inhale your dose. Close your lips around the spacer mouthpiece. Do not block the opening with your teeth or tongue. Spacers come in different shapes. Some spacers have different-sized masks for children. If your child uses a spacer, make sure you have one at home and one at school or daycare.
- Method 3: You may be told to put the mouthpiece of the inhaler in your mouth. Do not block the opening of the mouthpiece with your teeth or tongue.
How to use a MDI:
There are many different kinds of MDIs. Use your MDI as directed. The following are general guidelines:
- Hold the MDI upright: The mouthpiece should be at the bottom.
- Shake the inhaler: This will mix the medicine.
- Remove the cap from the mouthpiece: Make sure the mouthpiece is clean and not clogged. If you use a spacer, attach it to the MDI mouthpiece.
- Position the MDI: Position the MDI according to the method you use. Exhale (breathe out) completely.
- Firmly press down on the inhaler and breathe in slowly: This gives you 1 dose of medicine. If you use a spacer, press down on the inhaler, wait 5 seconds, and breathe in slowly.
- Remove the mouthpiece: Hold your breath for 10 seconds or more. This helps the medicine soak into your airways and reach deep into your lungs. Slowly exhale.
- Repeat as needed: Repeat these steps until you have taken the correct number of doses. You receive 1 dose of medicine each time you inhale. Wait 1 minute between each dose. Shake the inhaler to mix the medicine each time.
How to use a breath-activated MDI:
A breath-activated MDI means that you do not need to press down on the inhaler to get your medicine. Instead, you put the mouthpiece in your mouth and slowly inhale. When you inhale, medicine is released from the MDI. You will hear a clicking sound as the medicine is released.
Rinse your mouth after you use your MDI:
This helps remove any powder left in your mouth and throat. Gargling helps decrease any burning you may feel from the medicine. It also decreases the need to cough. Rinsing and gargling may also help prevent a mouth infection.
How to clean your MDI:
Remove the metal canister from the plastic mouthpiece. Rinse the mouthpiece and cap in warm water at bedtime. Dry them overnight.
How to tell that your MDI is empty:
Your MDI has the total number of doses listed on the canister. Write the date that you started to use the MDI on the canister. Keep track of how many times you use your MDI each day. Try to have a new MDI ready a week before your current MDI is empty.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have trouble using your MDI.
- You think your MDI is not working correctly.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.