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How to use an asthma inhaler

3-minute read

If you have asthma, you may need to use one or more asthma medications to manage the condition. It is important that you use your asthma inhaler correctly to get the full benefit of the medication you are taking.


Most people with asthma, however, don't use the correct technique.

Most asthma medicines are inhaled through the mouth using an inhaler or puffer. There are several types and the device you use will depend on your age, how your lungs work and which device you find easiest to use. A doctor or nurse should show you how to take your asthma medicine.

Some medicines are breathed in directly from the inhaler; others are breathed in through a 'spacer' - you puff the medicine into a container and breathe through a mouthpiece at the other end.

This increases the amount of medicine that reaches the small airways of your lungs.

Most children over 4 can use a small spacer and puffer. Babies and children under 4 may need a face mask.

(The videos below and more can be found on the NPS MedicineWise YouTube page.)

Metered dose inhaler (puffer)

Tips for correct use

  • make sure you hold the inhaler in the right position
  • breathe in deeply as you puff the medicine into your mouth, then hold your breath
  • make sure you shake the inhaler in between puffs.

Video: how to use a puffer



Video: how to use a puffer with a spacer



Autohaler

An Autohaler is an alternative way to take some asthma medicines.

Tips for correct use

  • make sure you hold the inhaler in the right position
  • continue to breathe in after you hear the click
  • try not to breathe out into the inhaler, and replace the cap after use
  • make sure you shake the inhaler in between puffs.

Video: how to use an Autohaler



Other types of inhaler (dry powder inhalers)

There are many other types of inhaler. These include the Accuhaler, Turbuhaler, HandiHaler, Ellipta and Genuair. These inhalers all come with instructions. A doctor or nurse should teach you how to use them.

Tips for correct use

  • make sure you don't tilt the inhaler while you are loading the dose
  • breathe out fully before you breathe in, and make sure you breathe in with a strong, complete breath
  • don't breathe out into the inhaler
  • make sure you close the inhaler after you use it.

Video: how to use an Accuhaler



Video: how to use a Turbuhaler



Video: how to use a HandiHaler



Check list for good usage

  • ask a health professional to demonstrate how to use your inhaler and check your technique
  • make sure the inhaler is not past its expiry date
  • make sure your inhaler is not empty
  • if you are using a spacer, make sure it is clean - visit the Australian Asthma Handbook for recommendations on how to clean a spacer.

Where to get help

The following organisations have a range of resources, including fact sheets and videos to help you take your asthma medicine properly:

Sources:

National Asthma Council Australia (Using your asthma or COPD inhaler correctly, How-to videos, My asthma guide, How to use a standard MDI, How to use autoinhaler, inhaler technique checklist, Use and care of spacers)

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Asthma medication inhalation devices | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

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