Using your asthma or COPD inhaler correctly

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It's easier to learn how to use your inhaler or puffer when someone shows you how.

Using your asthma or COPD inhaler properly is important. With the right technique, you can be sure the medicine is getting where it needs to.

Our library of How-To videos includes clips showing the correct use of different asthma and COPD inhalers as well as the correct use of allergy nasal sprays.

Inhaler designs vary widely and no inhaler type is foolproof. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about an inhaler that you feel comfortable with and then keep an eye out for the common problems.

Common errors with puffers (standard MDIs)

  • Not shaking the inhaler before use
  • Holding the inhaler in the wrong position
  • Not breathing out fully before pressing down on the inhaler
  • Pressing down on the inhaler too early or too late while breathing in
  • Pressing down on the inhaler more than once while breathing in
  • Breathing in too quickly
  • Not holding breath for long enough after breathing in
  • Having multiple puffs without shaking the inhaler in between

Using a spacer with your puffer can help reduce problems with timing and coordination, and will also help reduce the chance of side-effects like hoarseness or throat infections.

Common errors with dry powder inhalers

Dry powder inhalers include Accuhaler, Ellipta, Genuair and Turbuhaler.

  • Tilting the inhaler while loading the dose (needs to be horizontal for Accuhaler or vertical for Turbuhaler)
  • Not breathing out fully before breathing in
  • Not breathing in completely
  • Breathing in too slowly or weakly
  • Breathing out into the inhaler
  • Not closing the inhaler after use
  • Using the inhaler past the expiry date or when empty

Getting the most out of your inhaler

Ask your doctor, pharmacist or asthma & respiratory educator to:

  • Explain how your inhaler should be used
  • Check you are using your inhaler properly
  • Tell you where to find the expiry date on your inhaler
  • Show you how to check if your inhaler is empty or nearly empty
  • Discuss any unwanted effects from your medication
  • Explain how to clean your inhaler and spacer (if you have one).

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