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Using an Inhaler Without a Spacer

Your doctor may prescribe medication that you breathe in using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). An inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that delivers a measured amount of medication. Inhalers work best with spacers. But if you don’t have your spacer with you, follow the steps below.

Step 1:

  • Shake the inhaler and remove the cap.

  • Breathe out fully.

Step 2:

  • Put the tip of the inhaler mouthpiece in your mouth. Close your lips around it. (If your health care provider tells you to use the "open-mouth" method, hold the inhaler 1-2 inches from your mouth.)

Step 3:

  • Begin to breathe in slowly and deeply as you press down on the inhaler to release the medication.

  • Inhale fully.

Step 4:

  • Hold your breath for a count of 10.

  • Then breathe out slowly through your mouth.

  • Repeat these steps for the number of puffs your doctor tells you to take.


  • If the inhaler is being used for the first time or has not been used for a while, prime it as directed by its maker.

  • If you are prescribed more than one inhaler, ask what order to take them in. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Last Review Date: 11/15/2012
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