How to use a metered dose inhaler (MDI) or aerosol inhaler*
A metered dose inhaler (MDI) or aerosol inhaler is designed to help you inhale medication into your lungs. The medication is contained in a metal canister, which is wrapped in a plastic mouthpiece.
Remove the cap from the inhaler.
Make sure nothing is inside the mouthpiece of the inhaler.
Gently shake the inhaler well (although most inhalers should be shaken before use, some do not need to be shaken – check with your pharmacist).
Breathe out as completely as possible.
Tilt your head back slightly. Place the mouthpiece into your mouth between your teeth and close your lips around it (do not bite it). To allow the medication to enter your lungs, keep your teeth apart and your tongue flat on the floor of your mouth. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your mouth as you press the canister into the mouthpiece.
Hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as is comfortable, then breathe out slowly through your nose.
If you are using more than one puff, wait for about half a minute and then repeat steps 2 to 6.
Put the cap back on the inhaler.
Rinse your mouth with water for all corticosteroid inhalers. This is not necessary for bronchodilator inhalers. If you are unsure whether the medication in your inhaler is a corticosteroid or a bronchodilator, ask your pharmacist.
How to care for your inhaler
For most inhalers, wash the mouthpiece twice a week. Remove the plastic mouthpiece from the metal canister and wash the plastic mouthpiece in warm water. Allow the mouthpiece to air dry overnight, then reinsert the canister back into the plastic mouthpiece. Please note that some products recommend that you clean the mouthpiece every week with a dry piece of tissue and avoid washing your inhaler with water or any other type of liquid. Check with your pharmacist to find out which instructions apply to your inhaler.
How to make sure you are using the inhaler properly
From time to time, check your technique in front of a mirror. Watch for white mist escaping into the air as you use the inhaler. This means that some medication is being lost into the air. Check to make sure that you are closing your lips fully around the mouthpiece, and that you are inhaling as you press down the canister. Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for tips on how to use your inhaler properly.
* Many different medications come in aerosol inhalers. This information is intended to provide general instructions for the use of an aerosol inhaler. Instructions may vary for different products. If these instructions are different from those given by your doctor or pharmacist, check with your doctor or pharmacist to confirm how you should be using the product. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for specific information about your particular medication.