inhaler technique

Inhaler Technique: How to Properly Use an Inhaler for Asthma and COPD


Inhalers play a crucial role in the management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, using the correct technique is essential to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to use an inhaler correctly, focusing on the two common types: metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs). By following these proper inhaler techniques and administering the correct amount of puffs, individuals can optimize their inhaler medication delivery.

Importance of Inhaler Technique

The importance of proper inhaler technique cannot be overstated when it comes to managing respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Here are some key reasons why inhaler technique is crucial:

Maximizing Medication Effectiveness

Using an inhaler correctly ensures that the prescribed medication reaches the target areas in the lungs, where it can have the intended therapeutic effect. Proper technique allows for optimal drug delivery and absorption, maximizing the medication’s effectiveness in relieving symptoms and managing the underlying condition.

Consistent Dosing

Inhalers are designed to deliver a specific dose of medication with each use. Proper technique ensures that you receive the intended dose consistently, reducing the risk of under-dosing or over-dosing. Consistent dosing is essential for maintaining symptom control and preventing exacerbations.

Minimizing Side Effects

Inhaled medications can have potential side effects, but using the inhaler correctly helps minimize their occurrence. When the medication is properly deposited in the lungs, it reduces the likelihood of side effects such as oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) or systemic effects from excessive absorption of the medication.

Enhancing Symptom Relief

Inhalers are primarily used for relieving respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Proper inhaler technique ensures that the medication is delivered efficiently to target these symptoms effectively, providing prompt relief and improving overall quality of life.

Preventing Exacerbations

Poor inhaler technique can contribute to inadequate symptom control and increase the risk of exacerbations or flare-ups of respiratory conditions. By using the inhaler correctly, you can better manage your symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of exacerbations, and potentially avoid hospitalizations or emergency room visits.

Empowering Self-Management

Proper inhaler technique empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their respiratory condition. When you can effectively use your inhaler, you gain confidence in your ability to control symptoms, adhere to prescribed treatment plans, and optimize your lung function.

Individualized Treatment

Different inhalers have specific instructions for use, and mastering the correct technique for your prescribed inhaler ensures that you receive the full benefits of your treatment plan. By understanding and following the proper technique, you can tailor your inhaler usage to your specific needs and achieve optimal results.

Proper inhaler technique plays a vital role in maximizing the effectiveness of inhaled medications, ensuring consistent dosing, minimizing side effects, and improving symptom control. By mastering the correct technique and regularly reviewing it with your healthcare provider, you can actively manage your respiratory condition and enhance your overall well-being

Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) Technique

When using an MDI, it is crucial to coordinate hand-breath actions effectively. For small children who may find it challenging to coordinate, a spacer device or face mask with a spacer can be utilized. Here’s how to use an MDI effectively:

  • Shake the MDI well before each puff to ensure proper mixing of the medicine with the propellant.
  • Stand or sit upright and hold the inhaler upright.
  • Exhale fully, then seal the mouthpiece of the inhaler with your mouth.
  • Press the inhaler to release the medication, simultaneously taking a deep breath.
  • Hold your breath for 10 seconds, then exhale slowly.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after using the inhaler to prevent any potential side effects.

It’s essential to maintain the cleanliness of the spacer device. Clean it once a week by soaking it in soapy water, rinsing it with running water, and allowing it to air dry. Avoid rubbing the spacer during cleaning or drying to prevent static electric charges that can interfere with medication delivery.

Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) Technique

DPIs follow a similar usage technique. These inhalers contain drug capsules with dry powder medication. Here’s how to use a DPI correctly:

  • Insert the drug capsule into the inhaler’s chamber.
  • Press the buttons on either side of the inhaler to release the dry powder into the chamber.
  • Follow the same steps as mentioned earlier for MDIs, starting from exhaling fully and sealing the mouthpiece with your mouth.


Proper inhaler technique is crucial for effective asthma and COPD management. Whether using a metered dose inhaler or dry powder inhaler, ensuring correct coordination, adequate breath-holding, and proper cleaning of the device is essential. By following these inhaler techniques, individuals can optimize their medication delivery and enhance the effectiveness of their treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized instructions and guidance on inhaler usage.


“Inhalers are vital in the treatment of asthma and COPD, but using them correctly is essential for optimal results. This article provides a comprehensive guide on the proper technique for using two common types of inhalers: metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs). The MDI technique emphasizes the coordination of hand-breath actions, while the DPI technique involves inserting drug capsules and releasing dry powder. By following these step-by-step instructions, individuals can ensure effective medication delivery. Proper cleaning of spacer devices and adherence to healthcare provider guidance are emphasized. Enhance your inhaler technique for better asthma and COPD management.”

Commonly asked questions by patients.

How do I use my inhaler correctly?

The correct usage of inhalers depends on the specific type of inhaler you have. It’s essential to carefully read the instructions provided with your inhaler or consult a healthcare professional for proper guidance.

What is the proper technique for using a metered dose inhaler (MDI)?

To use an MDI correctly, shake the inhaler well before each use. Hold the inhaler upright, exhale fully, and then seal your lips around the mouthpiece. As you press down on the inhaler, breathe in slowly and deeply at the same time. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds, then exhale slowly. Remember to rinse your mouth with water after using the inhaler.

How do I use a dry powder inhaler (DPI)?

DPIs usually require you to load a dry powder capsule or insert a dry powder disk. After loading, close the inhaler and breathe out fully. Seal your lips around the mouthpiece and breathe in forcefully and deeply to inhale the powder. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds, then exhale slowly. Follow the specific instructions for your DPI device.

Should I use a spacer device with my inhaler?

Spacer devices are recommended for certain types of inhalers, especially for MDIs, as they help improve medication delivery and reduce the need for precise coordination between pressing the inhaler and inhaling. Consult your healthcare professional to determine if using a spacer device is appropriate for your inhaler.

When should I shake the inhaler?

Shake your inhaler before each use to ensure proper mixing of the medication. This applies to MDIs and some DPIs that contain a dry powder formulation. Follow the instructions provided with your inhaler for shaking techniques.

How do I coordinate my breath with the inhaler when using an MDI?

When using an MDI, it’s important to coordinate pressing the inhaler with inhaling. As you press down on the inhaler to release the medication, begin taking a slow and deep breath at the same time. This helps ensure that the medication reaches your lungs effectively.

How long should I hold my breath after inhaling the medication?

After inhaling the medication, it is generally recommended to hold your breath for about 10 seconds. This allows the medication to be fully absorbed into your lungs before exhaling.

Do I need to clean my inhaler or spacer device? If so, how often?

Cleaning instructions for inhalers and spacer devices may vary depending on the specific product. It is generally recommended to clean them regularly, as directed in the instructions provided with your inhaler. This helps prevent the buildup of residue and ensures optimal functioning and can gain the maximum benefits with proper inhaler technique.

Can I use my inhaler while lying down?

It is generally recommended to use inhalers while standing or sitting upright, as this position allows for better inhalation and coordination. However, if you have difficulty standing or sitting, consult your healthcare professional for guidance on using your inhaler in a position that is comfortable for you. Siting or standing position is a part of proper inhaler technique.

What should I do if I accidentally take multiple puffs from my inhaler?

If you accidentally take multiple puffs from your inhaler, it is important to follow the specific instructions provided with your inhaler. Some inhalers may have limitations on the maximum number of puffs that should be taken within a certain time frame. If you are unsure or concerned, consult your healthcare professional for advice.

What should I do with exercise induced asthma?

Some people can have asthma exacerbations during exercise. Among them some people did not have symptoms without exercise. If you have difficulty in breathing after exercise you should meet your health care provider. You may need nebulization of bronchodilator such as salbutamol. To prevent that you can take bronchodilator inhaler with proper inhaler technique before exercise session. You can do mild exercise in your home under the observation of your family members. Otherwise you can do yoga exercises.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *