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How to Use an Inhaler

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Inhalers are invaluable tools for managing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and various other lung-related issues. These handheld devices deliver medication directly to the airways, providing rapid relief and improved breathing for individuals with respiratory challenges.

Different Types of Inhaler

Inhalers come in various forms, each designed to serve specific purposes in managing your asthma. Here are the most common types:

Reliever Inhalers (Usually Blue)

Reliever inhalers, often identified by their blue colour, are also known as rescue or quick-relief inhalers. They contain medication that acts rapidly to provide immediate relief from asthma symptoms or sudden bronchoconstriction. These inhalers are typically used when you experience acute symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest tightness. The medication in reliever inhalers, usually salbutamol, works by quickly relaxing the muscles around your airways, allowing for easier breathing. It’s essential to carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times, as it can be a lifesaver during asthma attacks or sudden worsening of symptoms.

Preventer Inhalers (Usually Brown)

These inhalers contain medication that aims to manage and prevent the underlying inflammation in your airways, reducing the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. Preventer inhalers are typically used daily, even when you’re not experiencing symptoms, to keep inflammation under control and maintain overall lung health. They usually contain corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs. Consistent use of preventer inhalers can help you achieve long-term asthma control and reduce the need for reliever inhalers.

Combination Inhalers (Usually Purple)

These inhalers are typically prescribed for individuals who require both immediate relief of symptoms and long-term asthma control. By combining both reliever and preventer medications in a single inhaler, individuals can simplify their asthma management routine and improve adherence to their prescribed treatment plan.

For more detailed information on inhalers, please visit the Asthma + Lung UK website

How to Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI)

  1. Get Ready: Stand or sit up straight.
  2. Remove the Cap: Take off the cap from the inhaler.
  3. Shake It: If your inhaler needs shaking, give it a good shake.
  4. Breathe Out: Breathe out fully to make space in your lungs.
  5. Hold the Inhaler: Hold the inhaler with the mouthpiece facing you and the canister up.
  6. Seal Your Lips: Put the mouthpiece between your lips, making sure it’s snug.
  7. Press and Breathe: Press down on the canister while breathing in slowly and deeply.
  8. Keep Breathing: Continue to breathe in for about 3-4 seconds.
  9. Hold Your Breath: Take the inhaler out, but keep your breath in for about 10 seconds.
  10. Exhale Slowly: Breathe out slowly through your nose.
  11. Put the Cap Back On: If it has a cap, cover the mouthpiece.
  12. Rinse (if needed): If your doctor says, rinse your mouth after.

Remember to follow your doctor’s instructions and use the inhaler as they prescribed. Proper technique helps you get the most benefit from your inhaler.

How to Use a Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI)

  1. Get Ready: Stand or sit up straight.
  2. Check the Inhaler: Make sure it’s clean and dry.
  3. Open It: If your DPI has a cover, open it.
  4. Load a Dose: Load a single dose of medication by following the instructions for your specific DPI. This usually involves twisting, sliding, or clicking.
  5. Breathe Out: Breathe out gently to create some space in your lungs.
  6. Seal Your Lips: Put your lips around the mouthpiece to create a good seal.
  7. Breathe In Fast and Hard: Take a quick, deep breath in through the inhaler. This fast inhalation helps the powder get into your lungs.
  8. Hold Your Breath: After inhaling, hold your breath for about 10 seconds or as long as you comfortably can. This helps the medication reach deep into your airways.
  9. Exhale Slowly: Breathe out slowly through your nose.
  10. Close the Cover: If your DPI has a cover, close it to protect the mouthpiece.
For detailed videos on how to use your inhaler, please visit the Asthma + Lung UK website.

Order Your Prescription with Healthera

If you’ve been prescribed an inhaler to treat your condition, you can place your order online from your local pharmacy with Healthera. 

It only takes a couple of minutes to set up your prescription for collection or home delivery. 

To get started, simply click the button below: 

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