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Discharge Instructions: Using an Inhaler

Your healthcare provider prescribed medication that you will breathe in (inhale) by using an inhaler or metered-dose inhaler (MDI). An inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that delivers a measured amount of medication. A spacer (holding chamber), may also be used. Spacers make it easier to inhale medication correctly. Using the inhaler the right way is important so that the medication gets to your lungs.

Home Care

MDI Without Spacer

  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler.

  • Take a deep breath and breathe out (exhale) all the way.

  • Place the inhaler in your mouth. Close your lips around it.

  • As you breathe in deeply, press down on the inhaler to release the medication. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Then slowly breathe out.

Illustration showing four steps: shaking the inhaler, breathing out, inhaling medicine, and a clock showing 10 seconds.

MDI with Spacer

  • Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer and shake the inhaler.

  • Take a deep breath and breathe out (exhale) all the way. Put the spacer between your teeth and close your lips tightly around the spacer.

  • Spray 1 puff into the spacer by pressing down on the inhaler. Then slowly breathe in as deeply as you can. (If you breathe in too quickly, you may hear a whistling sound in the spacer.)

  • Take the spacer out of your mouth. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Then slowly breathe out.

Illustration of an inhaler and a spacer.
An inhaler and a spacer.

Follow-Up with Your Providers

As soon as you can, make all of your follow-up appointments, as directed by our staff.

When to Get Immediate Medical Attention

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Shortness of breath that is not relieved by your quick-relief medication

  • Trouble walking and talking because of shortness of breath

  • Blue lips or fingernails

  • Severe wheezing

  • Peak flow readings less than 50 percent of your personal best

Online Medical Reviewer: Akin, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Last Review Date: 6/19/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.