Metered-Dose Inhaler

A metered-dose inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that delivers a measured amount of medication. It is usually used to treat lung diseases, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Your metered-dose inhaler contains a powerful medication. The medicine must be breathed deeply into your lungs in order for it to work. It will not work at all if it only reaches your mouth and throat.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a special chamber or spacer to use with your inhaler. A spacer increases the amount of medicine that goes to your lungs and may make your medicine work better.

Metered-dose inhalers are simple to use. Follow the instructions from your health care provider and the manufacturer for best results. Most will tell you to:

Keep your inhaler at room temperature and out of the reach of children.

Shake the inhaler well and remove the cap. If you have one, attach your spacer to the inhaler.

Hold the inhaler so that the part that sprays the medication is at the bottom.

Take a deep breath and push all of that breath out through your mouth.

Place the inhaler or spacer in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it.

Squeeze the inhaler as you breathe in slowly through your mouth for a few seconds, drawing the medicine deep into your lungs.

Hold your breath for at least 10 seconds. Then breathe out slowly.

If you were told to take 2 puffs, wait 1 minute, and then repeat those steps again. Replace the cap and store your inhaler in a safe place.

If you were prescribed both a steroid inhaler and a bronchodilator inhaler, use the bronchodilator first to open the air passages. Wait 5 minutes, and then use your steroid inhaler.

When you are done, rinse your mouth with water and spit it out. Do this 2 or 3 times to make sure the medication is washed out of your mouth and throat. If left on your throat, some inhaled medications can cause an infection.

Cleaning Your Inhaler

You should clean your inhaler and spacer at least once a week, but every day, if you can. This is especially important if you are using a steroid inhaler.

Inhaled corticosteroids can cause a fungal infection called thrush. This is a type of infection that you can get in your mouth and throat. It's important to clean your inhaler and your spacer regularly in order to prevent thrush. It's also why you need to rinse your mouth after using your inhaler.

To clean your inhaler, remove the metal canister and set it aside. Do not put it in water. Then rinse the plastic mouthpiece, cap, and spacer under warm running water for 30 to 60 seconds. Shake off excess water and allow the mouthpiece to dry completely. If you need the inhaler before the mouthpiece is dry, shake off excess water or dry it with a paper towel. Replace the medicine canister and test spray two times away from your face before using it.

What We Have Learned

A metered-dose inhaler is usually used to treat lung diseases, like asthma and COPD.
True or false?
The answer is true. A metered-dose inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that delivers a measured amount of medication deep into your lungs.

If you were told to take 2 puffs from your inhaler, you should do the second one right after the first.
True or false?
The answer is false. You should wait at least 1 minute between puffs.

Thrush is a type of fungal infection that you can get in your mouth and throat.
True or false?
The answer is true. Cleaning your inhaler and rinsing your mouth after using it can help prevent thrush.