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Respiratory Services

Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center
2213 Cherry Street
Toledo, OH 43608
(419) 251-3232

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Mercy St. Charles Hospital
2600 Navarre Avenue
Oregon, OH 43616
(419) 696-7200

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Mercy St. Anne Hospital
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623
(419) 407-2663

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Respiratory Services

Inhaler Use

Did you know that using your inhaler incorrectly could result in a decreased amount of the medicine reaching your lungs? Worse yet, some mistakes in technique will result in no medicine reaching your lungs.

Understand how to use your inhaler correctly so that you get the correct dose of medicine, making it easier to control your symptoms of asthma, COPD, or other respiratory diseases. Pleae read the following guidelines carefully to understand how to use your inhaled medications correctly and also learn some useful tips.

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How to Use Your MDI

MDI with a Spacer/Holding Chamber

  • Wash your hands.
  • If you have not already done so, place medicine canister into the mouthpiece device.
  • Make sure that canister is tightly secured into the hole of the mouthpiece device.
  • Remove plastic cap from MDI mouthpiece.
  • Shake the MDI canister to mix the medicine and propellant.
  • Remove the spacer cap and connect to the MDI mouthpiece.
  • Place the mouthpiece of your spacer into your mouth.
  • Close your lips around the mouthpiece and press down on the canister to release the medicine/puff. Inhale slowly and completely.
  • Take spacer device out of your mouth. Hold your breath for up to 10 seconds to allow the medicine to reach deep into your lungs.
  • Slowly breathe out.
  • Repeat steps 1-11 if your doctor has ordered more than one puff
  • Put cap back onto the inhaler and spacer.

MDI Without a Spacer

  • Wash your hands.
  • If you have not already done so, place medicine canister into the mouthpiece device.
  • Make sure that canister is tightly secured into the hole of the mouthpiece device.
  • Remove plastic cap from MDI mouthpiece.
  • Shake the MDI canister to mix the medicine and propellant.
  • Holding the MDI upright, exhale (breathe out). Open your mouth and hold the MDI about an inch away from your lips.
  • Begin to breathe in and as you do so, press down on the canister (releasing medicine/puff) and continue to breathe in slowly and completely.
  • It is also possible to use your MDI by placing the device in your mouth. Please your lips around the mouthpiece and perform the maneuver as above.
  • Hold your breath for up to 10 seconds to allow the medicine to reach deep into your lungs.
  • Slowly breathe out.
  • Repeat steps 1-12 if your doctor has ordered more than one puff.
  • Put cap back onto the inhaler.
  • Keep your mouthpiece and spacer clean as a dirty mouthpiece and/or spacer can cause infections.
  • To clean the inhaler (exceptions Qvar, see below), remove the metal canister from plastic mouthpiece sleeve. Wash the mouthpiece sleeve with warm soapy water, rinse with warm water and dry it thoroughly before reusing. Do not submerge or wash the metal canister since water may damage the valve system.
  • For the Qvar inhaler: the mouthpiece of your inhaler should be cleaned weekly with a clean, dry tissue or cloth. Do not wash or put any part of your inhaler in water. *Maxair Autohaler works a bit differently than the standard MDI. Please follow manufacturers instructions.

Helpful MDI Tips

Practice these steps for using your MDI. It can be helpful to practice in front of a mirror. To make sure you are following the steps correctly, ask your doctor or respiratory therapist to watch you use your MDI.

  • Blowing out all of your air in your lungs (exhaling), before breathing in your puff of medicine, will help you take in a deeper breath, and this helps to get more medicine deep into your lungs.
  • It is recommend that you use a spacer or holding chamber because it is much easier to correctly coordinate the spray of the medication.
  • If your MDI is new or you have not used it in 24 hours you should “prime’ (spray one dose into the open air) the MDI to make sure you get the full dose of medicine. Some inhaled medicine can make your mouth sore, so after you have finished using your inhalers rinse out your mouth with water. Spit out water; do not swallow the water. This is especially important if you are using inhaled steroids i.e. Flovent®, Beclovent®, Vanceril®, Aerobid®, or Azmacort® to prevent fungal growth in your mouth.
  • The only way to be sure that you have medication left in the MDI is to count each time you use you MDI. Each MDI contains a specific amount of sprays/puffs; you can find this number in the drug insert that comes with your MDI. There are several types counter devices that attach to your MDI that will keep count of puffs. Ask to see them at your pharmacy.
  • Do not puncture the canister.
  • Do not store canister in temperatures over 120 F. i.e. car trunks, glove boxes and/or in the direct sunlight.

How to Use Your DPI

  • Wash your hands.
  • Remove cap or cover.
  • Place your teeth on the mouthpiece and seal your lips around it.
  • Make sure your tongue is not blocking the mouthpiece.

There are several different types of DPI’s and you should follow the recommended steps to load in the medicine and release the medicine.

  • Breathe in quickly and deeply through your mouth. This activates the flow of medicine.
  • Take your mouth off of the mouthpiece and hold your breath for up to 10 seconds and then exhale.
  • Slowly breathe out.
  • Repeat steps 1-7 if your doctor has ordered more than one puff.
  • Keep your DPI mouthpiece clean. Clean the mouthpiece at least once a week using a dry cloth.
  • Do not wash your dry powder inhaler. You can make sure to thoroughly wipe away any particles of powder that have collected on the mouthpiece.
Helpful DPI Tips

  • Blowing out all of your air in your lungs (exhaling), before breathing in your puff of medicine will help you to take in a deeper breath, and this helps to get more medicine deep into your lungs.
  • Do not blow into your DPI as it could clog the DPI. If the valve is clogged you will not get all of the medicine.
  • If you breathe into the DPI after you have released the medicine, repeat steps 1 –7. Some DPIs require you to put a pill or capsule into your DPI device. Make sure that you place the capsule or pill into your inhaler device and DO NOT swallow the pill or capsule.
  • You do not need to shake your DPI before use.
Inhaler use guidelines courtesy of The American Association for Respiratory Care
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