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Using an Inhaler

Your health care provider may prescribe medication that you breathe in using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). An inhaler delivers a measured amount of medication in a fine mist.

Step 1:

  • Shake the inhaler and remove the cap.

  • Take a deep breath and let it out.

Step 2:

  • Close your lips around the end of the inhaled mouthpiece. Or, if you were told to use the "open-mouth" method, hold the inhaler 1-2 inches from your mouth.

Step 3:

  • 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 each puff of medication prescribed.


  • If the inhaler is being used for the first time or has not been used for a while, prime it as directed by the manufacturer. Important information about the inhaled medication can be found in the package insert, the paper that comes with the medication.

  • If you use more than one inhaler, make sure you know which to use first.

  • Your health care provider or pharmacist can help you with correctly using your inhaler. Even if you think you are using it correctly, it is still a good idea to check. 

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