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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:

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 77 results

Asthma medications and how to use inhalers (puffers) video | myVMC

Asthma medications or asthma inhalers include preventers of asthma symptoms and relievers of asthma attacks. The correct inhaler technique must be used.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Asthma inhalers: how do I use my puffer? - myDr.com.au

It is important to use your aerosol inhaler or puffer properly, so that you receive the correct dosage of your asthma medicine.

Read more on myDr website

Using your medicines correctly - National Asthma Council Australia

Most asthma medicines are inhaled through the mouth using a handheld device called an inhaler or puffer.

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

How to use your puffer - An Asthma Australia site

How to use your puffer

Read more on Asthma Australia website

Spacers - An Asthma Australia site

Using a spacer with a puffer makes it easier to take the medicine, and also gets more of the medicine into the lungs so it works better.

Read more on Asthma Australia website

Asthma inhaler and medication tips

How to stick to your asthma medications

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Asthma medications and inhaler devices

There are 3 main types of medications used to treat asthma: relievers (blue), preventers (orange or yellow) and symptom controllers (green).

Read more on WA Health website

How to use an inhaler (puffer) with small volume spacer

A spacer holds the spray from a puffer until it is all breathed into your lungs.

Read more on WA Health website

Qvar Inhaler - myDr.com.au

Qvar Inhaler - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Flixotide Accuhaler Inhaler - myDr.com.au

Flixotide Accuhaler Inhaler - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

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