7 steps to getting the most out of your inhaler

Facts | 06/12/2021
7 steps to getting the most out of your inhaler
There are many ways for you to control your asthma or COPD better, and one of the most important ways is using your inhaler correctly. These tips will help you master your inhaler technique.

1. Commit to using your inhaler

One of the most important things that will make it easier for you to breathe and live your life to the fullest is your own commitment – you decide to stay focused and use your inhaler correctly. Taking your medication is worth doing properly as it only requires a few minutes of your time but will significantly improve your control of the disease, and thereby improve your quality of life.

New habits are easier to form when you build them into your daily routine. Using your inhaler can be routine like brushing your teeth twice a day. Follow the instructions given by your doctor, nurse and pharmacist, and read the package leaflet provided with your inhaler.

If you’re new to asthma or COPD, you might still be in the process of building new, life-changing habits. You’re off to a good start, keep on going!

2. Exhale and prepare to inhale better via inhaler

For your medicine to do its work, it needs to get all the way down to your lungs. The way you breathe before, during and after using your inhaler makes all the difference.

Right before inhaling, you’ll need to empty your lungs. This way, there will be more space for a good, deep inhalation that delivers your medicine. Exhale deeply and slowly, away from your inhaler, and get ready to take a good, deep breath.

3. Master your inhaler technique with different types of inhalers

The way you inhale your medicine depends on the type of inhaler. There are three main types of devices for at-home use of asthma or COPD medication: the dry powder inhaler (DPI), the pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI), and the soft mist inhaler. For detailed instructions, check the package leaflet provided with your inhaler.

How to use a dry powder inhaler

A dry powder inhaler, or DPI, delivers medication to the lungs in a fine dry powder. Most DPIs rely on the force of your inhalation – you’ll need to breathe in through the mouthpiece to pull the medication from the inhaler into your lungs.

Most DPIs need some preparation. The preparation means loading the dose so that the correct amount of medication will be inhaled through the mouthpiece. Once loaded, put the mouthpiece into your mouth, take a strong and deep breath and continue inhaling until your lungs are full. For specific instructions, refer to the package leaflet provided with your inhaler.

How to use an aerosol inhaler

The pressurized metered dose inhaler, or pMDI, mixes the medicine with a propellant that turns the medication into a fine spray. pMDIs are often called aerosol or spray inhalers. There are two important things to remember when using aerosol inhalers.

First, most aerosol inhalers need to be shaken before using it for the medicine and propellant to mix well. Second, you’ll need to inhale as you are pressing the canister. Breathe in slow and steady until your lungs are full. Make sure you’re not inhaling too early or too late after pressing – it takes less than half a second for the medicine to be released, and you’ll need to inhale at this time. Most pMDIs need to be used with a spacer that helps to co-ordinate the actuation and inhalation.

Another type of aerosol inhaler is the breath-actuated MDIs. The BA-MDI releases the medicine when you breathe in through the mouthpiece, so you won’t need to worry about the co-ordination of actuation and inhalation as you do with a regular pMDI. For specific instructions, refer to the package leaflet provided with your inhaler.

How to use a soft mist inhaler

The soft mist inhaler functions like a pMDI: it releases the medicine on actuation. When using the soft mist inhaler, start to breathe in slowly and deeply and only then press the dose release button.

4. Hold your breath for optimal effect of asthma or COPD medications

Once you’ve inhaled your medicine, holding your breath can help it work better. Hold your breath for a while, for specific instructions, refer to the package leaflet provided with your inhaler.

5. Rinse your mouth after inhaling

Good oral hygiene is important with all inhaled medicines. It's good to rinse your mouth after inhaler use with fresh water and then spit it out. If you take the medication close to brushing your teeth it is advisable to brush your teeth first and then take the medication. When taking the medication via DPI, you may feel an aftertaste in your mouth. This is only due to the carrier of the medicine and you can be assured that you received the medication. 

6. Make a habit of cleaning your inhaler

Unwanted residue in the inhaler can stop the ideal flow of the medicine and collect germs you don’t want to inhale, so keeping your inhaler fresh and clean is a good habit to adopt. Water should not usually be used to clean an inhaler as most devices are sensitive to moisture. Therefore, it is important that you follow the cleaning instructions that come with the package.

7. If your asthma or COPD medication doesn’t help, check with your doctor

It’s important to always check your inhaler technique with your doctor or nurse at your control visits or if your asthma or COPD control does not remain at a good level.


Date of preparation: October 2023 / EASYH-663(2)


If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website: www.hpra.ie or email medsafety@hpra.ie


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Orion Corporation is a globally operating Finnish pharmaceutical company. We develop, manufacture and market human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The dry powder inhaler developed at Orion is in the core of our respiratory therapy area.