Correct inhaler use

Correctly using your inhaler will help treat your asthma


Using your asthma inhaler properly could mean the difference between having asthma which is under control or regular flare-ups of symptoms. Getting the technique right will reduce the likelihood of your asthma disrupting your day to day life, making it easier to join in with activities and get a good night’s sleep. 

What happens if I don’t use my inhaler properly? 

When you use your inhaler incorrectly this causes the medicine to hit the back of your throat instead of getting straight into the lungs where it’s needed. Getting an unpleasant taste after using your inhaler is an indication of this. If this happens you are more likely to experience side effects like oral thrush. 

Aside from this, if your medicine is not being inhaled properly into your lungs then this reduces its effectiveness in treating your symptoms properly. Your symptoms might continue to be triggered and your doctor might prescribe you with additional treatment. 

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How do I use my inhaler properly? 

First of all, make sure you know what type of inhaler you have as the technique will depend on which inhaler you are using. Your GP will show you how to use them and you can always ask for a repeat demonstration if necessary. 

To use a metered-dose inhaler, first, remove the lid and shake the device. Take a deep breath and exhale as slowly as you can. Next, seal your lips around the mouthpiece and press down on the button on top of the canister, breathing in at the same time. Try to hold your breath for 10 seconds but if you can’t, just hold it for as long as you are able to before breathing out slowly. If you are taking a second puff, wait 30 seconds before repeating. 

Common inhaler mistakes 

Some examples of common mistakes include: 

  • Breathing the wrong way for your inhaler type 
  • Not shaking your inhaler before use
  • Taking a second puff right away
  • Not exhaling before taking a puff
  • Having your chin leaning down
  • Not sealing your lips properly around the mouthpiece 
  • Breathing in too early or too late
  • Forgetting to hold your breath after inhaling the medicine 
  • Forgetting to use your preventer inhaler 

Tips for good inhaler technique

Before using your inhaler, make sure you know which type of inhaler it is you have. A dry powder inhaler will require a different breathing technique from a metered-dose one. If you have a metered-dose inhaler you’ll need to shake it before each use. Whichever type you are using, always wait for 30-60 seconds before taking a second puff and exhale fully before using it. 

Making sure you are sitting upright with your chin slightly raised will help you to inhale the medicine properly with maximum comfort. If you are using a preventer inhaler, then use alarms or reminders to help you make it part of your daily routine. If you are struggling to get the hang of the right technique then you can always use a spacer. 

View all asthma treatments

NHS > Asthma inhaler technique
Asthma UK > Common inhaler mistakes


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