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How to Use A Breath-Activated Inhaler

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is a breath-activated inhaler?

A breath-activated inhaler is a handheld device that delivers a dose of medicine as a mist when you inhale. You breathe the medicine deep into your lungs to open your airways.

How do I use a breath-activated inhaler?

  • Follow the instructions to put together the inhaler. It may have one or more levers that you pull or push.
  • Remove the cap. Check to make sure there are no foreign objects in the mouthpiece or the vents.
  • Shake the inhaler to mix the medicine. Breathe out fully. Do not breathe into the inhaler.
  • Hold the inhaler upright, with the mouthpiece pointing towards your mouth. Do not cover the vents. Place the mouthpiece between your lips and create a tight seal.
  • Breathe in deeply. You will hear a click and feel the mist when the medicine comes out. Do not stop inhaling when you feel the mist.
  • Hold your breath for about 5 seconds. Breathe out slowly.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or saline. Do not swallow the water or saline.

How do I care for my breath-activated inhaler?

  • Put the cap back on the inhaler after each use to keep the mouthpiece clean.
  • Clean your inhaler at least 1 time each week as directed by your healthcare provider.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or have someone call if:

  • Your lips or nails turn blue or gray.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You cough up blood.
  • The skin between your ribs or around your neck pulls in with every breath.
  • You feel short of breath, even after you use your inhaler.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You feel the medicine spray on your tongue or throat, rather than going into your lungs.
  • You run out of medicine before your next refill is due, or sooner than your healthcare provider says you should.
  • You feel like your medicine is not controlling your symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.