People who have lung conditions, like asthma or COPD, often take their medications using a hand-held device called a metered-dose inhaler, or MDI, with a spacer. This brochure will show you the general steps for using an inhaler correctly with a spacer.
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How to Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler with a Spacer
People who have lung conditions, like asthma or COPD, often take their medications using a hand-held device called a metered-dose inhaler, or MDI, with a spacer.
A metered-dose inhaler sprays medicine through your mouth so that it can reach your airways.
If your inhaler is not used the right way, some medicine may not enter your mouth, or some may remain in the back of your mouth. Either way, it may not reach your airways where it is needed.
It's important to follow the instructions that came with your metered-dose inhaler and spacer.
A metered-dose inhaler has three main parts:
A spacer helps get more medicine into your airways.
The spacer attaches to your inhaler's mouthpiece, it also has a mouthpiece and cap.
Using The Inhaler
Step 1 Before using your metered-dose inhaler, remove the mouthpiece cap and shake the inhaler.
Step 2 Next, remove the cap from the spacer and make sure it's clean inside.
Step 3 If this is the first time you are using your inhaler, or if you haven't used it in a while, you may need to prime it before placing it in the spacer. Check the instructions for how and when to do this with your inhaler.
Step 4 Attach your spacer to your inhaler.
Step 5 When you're ready to use your inhaler, stand or sit up straight.
Step 6 Breathe in deeply, and breathe out completely to empty your lungs.
Step 7 Put the spacer's mouthpiece in your mouth between your teeth and above your tongue. Then, close your lips around the mouthpiece to form a tight seal.
Step 8 Press down firmly on the top of your inhaler to release one puff of medicine into the spacer, and breathe in as slowly and as deeply as you can. If you hear a whistling sound, you are breathing in too quickly.
Step 9 It is recommended that you hold your breath for approximately ten counts.
Step 10 Finally, breathe out slowly through your mouth.
Step 11 If your medicine dose requires two puffs, you may need to wait before taking the second puff.
Follow the instructions that came with your inhaler to know how long to wait between puffs.
Step 12 After using a steroid inhaler, rinse out your mouth with water and spit it out.
It's important to keep your inhaler clean so that it works properly.
Check your inhaler's instructions for the right way to clean it.
Proper use of your metered-dose inhaler may help you control the symptoms of your lung condition.
If you have questions about the use of your inhaler, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist. Ask them to watch you use your inhaler to see if you are using it properly.
The information in this handout has been created and peer reviewed by graduate-level medical illustrators, followed by reviews from medical subject experts, either physicians or PhDs on the Nucleus Medical Review Board, to ensure medical accuracy and audience level appropriateness.
The handout is intended to supplement the information you receive from your healthcare provider and should never be considered personal medical advice. Always contact your healthcare provider with health questions and concerns.