Discharge Instructions: Using an Inhaler

Your healthcare provider prescribed medicine that you will breathe in (inhale) by using an inhaler or metered-dose inhaler (MDI). An inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that gives you a measured amount of medicine. A spacer (holding chamber) may also be used. Spacers make it easier to inhale medicine correctly. Using the inhaler the right way is important so that the medicine gets to your lungs to help you breathe better. MDIs are a common type of inhaler, and these instructions refer to this type of inhaler. Other type of inhalers are also available. These include dry powder inhalers (DPIs). Check with your healthcare provider if you aren't sure which type of inhaler you are to use when you get home.

Home care

MDI without spacer

  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler.

  • Take a deep breath and breathe out (exhale) all the way.

  • Place the inhaler in your mouth. Close your lips around it.

  • As you breathe in deeply, press down on the inhaler to release the medicine. Hold your breath for a count of 10, or as long as you can comfortably. Then slowly breathe out.

Five steps in using metered-dose inhaler without a spacer.

 

 

MDI with spacer

  • Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer and shake the inhaler.

  • Take a deep breath and breathe out (exhale) all the way. Put the spacer between your teeth and close your lips tightly around the spacer.

  • Spray 1 puff into the spacer by pressing down on the inhaler. Then slowly breathe in as deeply as you can. If you breathe in too quickly, you may hear a whistling sound in the spacer.

  • Take the spacer out of your mouth. Hold your breath for a count of 10, or as long as you can comfortably. Then slowly breathe out.

Six steps in using metered-dose inhaler with a spacer.

Follow-up with your provider

As soon as you can, make all of your follow-up appointments as directed by our staff.

When to call 911

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Shortness of breath that does not get better after taking your quick-relief medicine

  • Trouble walking and talking because of shortness of breath

  • Blue lips or fingernails

  • Severe wheezing

  • Peak flow readings less than 50% of your personal best