Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Aug 4, 2020

Inhaler techniques

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor



The metered dose inhaler is one of the most common types of inhalers in treating airway disorders such as asthma. However, it’s estimated that fewer than half the people who use them do so correctly. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your inhaler:

  • Shake the inhaler well and attach a spacer — A spacer is a 4- to 8-inch plastic tube that may be hollow or have a one-way valve. A properly used spacer maximizes the amount of medication reaching your lower airways, and greatly decreases the amount deposited in the throat.
  • With upright posture, deeply breathe in and out a few times — Stop exhaling just before your lungs are completely emptied and hold your breath. Place the spacer between your teeth and close your mouth around the end to form an airtight seal.
  • Inhale medicine slowly — Inhale slowly as you squeeze the inhaler once and medication is released into the spacer. Be sure to breathe in slowly, as you would when sipping soup. Continue inhaling slowly for five to seven seconds. After inhaling, hold your breath for about five to 10 seconds before exhaling.
  • Rinse your mouth — After using the inhaler — especially one that contains a class of medication called corticosteroids — gargle with water and spit it out. This helps prevent thrush. Clean your spacer by washing the plastic part in soapy water at least once a week.

If you have continued trouble with your metered dose inhaler, check with your health care team.


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