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Are You Using Your Asthma Inhaler Properly?

Woman using blue asthma reliever inhaler

Although it sounds simple, especially when it comes to a chronic condition like asthma, studies show that the vast majority of sufferers are not using their inhalers correctly. This often means that the medicine does not get into the airways properly, meaning that in many cases otherwise manageable symptoms will persist or even worsen.

While the correct procedure for inhaler use might not be immediately straightforward, it is definitely worth spending a few minutes learning and perfecting your technique to give you more control over your symptoms and reduce your future likelihood of experiencing serious health complications due to your asthma.

To help you achieve this, Online Doctor has prepared the above video, which demonstrates the right way to use your inhaler.

[N.B. This video demonstrates how to use metered dose inhalers (or Evohalers), which are the most popular type of inhaler. . If you use an alternative type of inhaler, visit Asthma UK.]

What to remember when using your inhaler:

  • Take the inhaler cap off and give it a shake.
  • If you haven’t used your inhaler in the last seven days, test it by spraying a bit of medicine into the air away from you.
  • Take a slow, deep breath in and completely exhale out (without the inhaler) before putting the inhaler into your mouth, push down the top of the inhaler and breathe in for about five seconds.
  • Take the inhaler out of your mouth and hold your breath for about ten seconds.
  • If you need another dose of medicine, wait for about 30 seconds before taking the second dose.

We offer inhalers through our online service—meaning you don’t have to visit a doctor every time you need an inhaler.

Video Transcription

This is an MDI (Metered-dose) type of inhaler - it’s the most common type of inhaler used in the UK.

I’m going to show Kathy how to use one correctly using this placebo (or dummy) inhaler.

So, you take the cap off, you check there’s nothing inside it, you give the inhaler a shake. The idea now is that you're going to take a slow and deep breath to get the medication into your lungs. Take a breath in and a breath out, you put the canister into your mouth with your lips sealed around it, and then start your slow breath in.

I recommend you try and breathe in for five seconds. Press the inhaler just as you start that breath in, then remove the inhaler and hold your breath for 10 seconds (if you can).

So, over to you Kathy! So, you're removing the cap, having a check inside, giving it a shake, and take a breath in while you do that. And breath out. Now pop it in your mouth with your lips around it, and take a slow breath in - 1… 2… 3… 4… 5... - and then remove the inhaler and hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then breathe out.

If you need another dose just leave it about half a minute or 30 seconds before you take it again.

We also recommend that you get a pharmacist to check your technique when you next pick up your inhalers. You might find that they use one of these (which is an in-check DIAL). These can measure exactly how strong your breath in should be, so it’s worth doing if you get the opportunity.

Okay Kathy, so how did it feel taking that breath in?

It’s quite slow, so it’s quite striking how slowly you actually have to breathe in.

Here are some of the commonest mistakes that people make when they use their inhalers:

  • Some people don't coordinate their breathing.
  • The commonest mistake is breathing in too quickly.
  • Some people hold their breath not long enough, and some people hold it too long.
  • Some people don't have a good aim.