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Caring for Your Inhaler

Your health care provider may prescribe medication that you breathe in using a metered-dose inhaler. It is important to keep it clean and to keep track of how much medication is left in the canister, so you’ll never run out.

Hand holding part of inhaler under running water. More parts of inhaler and spacer are lying on towel on counter.

Keeping Your Inhaler Clean

  • Take off the canister, the part with the medicine, and cap from the mouthpiece.

  • Do not wash the canister or put it in water.

  • Run warm water through the mouthpiece for about a minute.

  • Shake off the water and let it air-dry.

  • If you need to use it before it's dry, shake off any water and replace the canister. Test spray it away from you to make sure it works.

  • If you use a spacer, clean it with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap once every week or two.

  • Make sure you check the package insert, the information that comes with the medicine, for special instructions on the care and cleaning of your spacer.

When to Replace Your Inhaler

Each inhaler is good for only a certain number of puffs of medication. After those puffs are used up, any puffs remaining will not give you the amount of medication you need. To be sure you’ll get enough medication when you need it, keep track of how many puffs you use. Here’s an easy way to keep track of the medication in your inhaler:

  1. Find the number on the canister that tells you how many puffs it contains.

  2. Divide this number by how many puffs you are told to use in one day. This gives you the number of days your medication should last.

  3. Use your calendar to find out what date your medication will run out. Mark it on the canister and on your calendar.

Be sure to get a refill of your medications before you run out. Some inhalers have dose counters to track the amount of medication used.

Sample for you to fill in:

____________

Number of puffs in new canister

/

____________

Number of puffs you use each day

=

____________

Number of days medication will last

Note: Remember that your medication will not last long if you use your inhaler more often than planned.

For example, if your new canister holds 200 puffs and you’ve been told to use 4 puffs a day:

200 ÷ 4 = 50 days

Online Medical Reviewer: Akin, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Last Review Date: 5/19/2014
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