How to Use an Inhaler Correctly

Do you feel like a pro when it comes to using your asthma inhaler?  Some asthmatics are very comfortable with this form of medication, while others may be in need of a refresher course to make sure their technique is up to par. Further, with the introduction of the HFA inhalers, other asthmatics are suddenly wondering how the environmentally friendly propellant changes the actual delivery of medication.

Regardless of your situation, it never hurts to check your ability to use your inhaler properly since you'll want to be sure you're getting the full health benefits you need to feel your best.

Get the Facts

The good news is that the medication contained in today's HFA style inhalers hasn't changed. Further, they still work using a metered dose style, which means that they deliver a measured dose of the medication into your lungs. The difference, though, is in the way that the medicine is actually propelled from the canister, so the force of the delivery, as well as the consistency, may vary slightly from what you've become used to.

Steps to Use an HFA Inhaler

As long as you are using your inhaler properly, the effects you get should remain the same as they've always been. Please review the following how-to steps to check your technique.

  • Take the canister containing the medicine and shake it.
  • Remove the cap from the mouthpiece.
  • Hold the mouthpiece one to two inches away from your mouth and open your lips and tilt your head back slightly. (Note that some people prefer to hold the mouthpiece right between their lips, which is also okay.)
  • Exhale, then press down gently on the top of the canister so that it sprays a fine mist.
  • Slowly breathe the mist in for about 5 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for another 10 seconds to allow the medicine to travel into your lungs. Then release.
  • Wait a minute or two, then repeat as directed.

Address Concerns Promptly

If you aren't sure if you're getting enough medication or are using the inhaler correctly, or if you think you may be running out of medication sooner than you expected, be sure to keep track of your usage and your symptoms, and share this information with your doctor. He can offer guidance and can also school you on the correct technique. He can also address any concerns you have about the HFA inhaler. Remember that knowing how to use an inhaler correctly is your best defense to keep your asthma in check. 


American Academy of Family Physicians

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

American Thoracic Society