How to Use Your Inhaler

Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI or pMDI) | DISKUS® | Turbuhaler® | Diskhaler® | Spacers

How to Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler “Puffer”

A metered-dose inhaler, called an MDI for short, is a pressurized inhaler that delivers medication by using a propellant spray.

Metered-Dose Inhaler

To use an MDI:

You should follow the instructions packaged with your medication. Asthma Canada recommends using a spacer with your puffer if possible, but if you must use it without a spacer, the following is a recommended method:

  1. Shake the puffer well before use (three or four shakes) Remove the cap
  2. Breathe out, away from your puffer
  3. Bring the puffer to your mouth. Place it in your mouth between your teeth and close your mouth around it
  4. Start to breathe in slowly. Press the top of your puffer once, and keep breathing in slowly until you’ve taken a full breath
  5. Remove the puffer from your mouth, and hold your breath for about 10 seconds, then breathe out

If you need a second puff, wait 30 seconds, shake your inhaler again, and repeat steps 3-6. After you’ve used your MDI, rinse out your mouth and if your puffer doesn’t have a built-in dose counter, always write down the number of puffs you’ve taken so that you can anticipate when you need to refill your prescription.

Store all puffers at room temperature.

Cleaning Your MDI

There are many types of puffers, and they may have slightly different cleaning and storage instructions. Please refer to the instructions that came with your device. Store all puffers at room temperature and keep the top on when not in use. If you are using your spacer every day, you should replace it about every 12 months.

Important Reminders About MDIs

Always follow the instructions that come with your MDI. As well:

  • Keep your reliever MDI somewhere where you can get it quickly if you need it, but out of children’s reach.
  • Show your doctor, pharmacist or asthma educator how you’re using your metered-dose inhaler.
  • Store your MDI at room temperature. If it gets cold, warm it using only your hands.
  • Never puncture or break the canister, or try to warm it using anything except your hands.
  • When you begin using an MDI, write the start date on the canister.
  • Check the expiry date on the MDI before you use it.
  • If you’re having trouble using your MDI, ask your doctor for tips or to recommend another device.
  • Many doctors recommend the use of a spacer, or a holding device to be used with the MDI.
  • Do not float the canister in water.