Proper Technique for Using an Inhaler

Proper Technique for Using an Inhaler
Inhaled medications for respiratory problems are commonly administered via a device called a metered dose inhaler (MDI). When activated, this device will give an exact dose of the prescribed medication. Recently, the standard propellants (Chlorofluorocarbons) have been replaced. This was because of the environmental effects of the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). They have been replaced by hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). It used to be the case that a patient could float the inhaler in water to determine the amount of medication left in an inhaler. With the replacement of CFCs with HFAs, this technique can no longer be used. The old method of shaking an inhaler to gauge how much medication is left, also no longer applies. Patients have to rely upon counting the number of puffs they have taken from the inhaler to know how much mediation is left. The number of puffs that your inhaler will provide will be printed clearly on the side of the inhaler. Patients who have been used to the old inhaler may notice that the jet of medication that they feel upon inhalation is less intense. Patients should be aware that the same amount of medication is still being administered. There are two methods for using a metered dose inhaler. The first is a valved holding chamber. This is a device that attaches to the MDI. This makes it easier to use the inhaler and gets the medication to the lungs more efficiently. The valved holding chamber is very useful for children with asthma.
Using an MDI with a holding chamber:
  1. First of all, remove the cap from the MDI and the chamber and shake well.
  2. Next, place the MDI upright into the holding chamber.
  3. Breathe out completely.
  4. Place the mouthpiece of the holding chamber between your teeth and close your lips around it.
  5. Press the canister once and breathe slowly in.
  6. If you are breathing too fast you will hear a horn that will tell you to slow down.
  7. Breathe slowly in and then hold your breath for ten seconds (it helps to count slowly to ten for this).
Repeat the process as many times as your doctor told you to, but always remember to wait one minute in between puffs.
Using an MDI without a holding chamber:
  1. Remove the cap of the MDI and shake well.
  2. Breathe out completely.
  3. Place the mouthpiece of the MDI in between your teeth and close your lips around it
  4. Start to breathe in, as you do, press down on the canister once.
  5. Keep breathing in as slowly and evenly as possible for about 5 to 7 seconds.
  6. Hold your breath for 10 seconds (count slowly to ten).
  7. Exhale gently.
It is important that you learn how to synchronize your inhalation with every compression and how to hold your breath for ten seconds. If you do not do this properly, the medication could rest on your tongue and the back of your throat and not reach the airways where it is needed. Your doctor will advise you on the appropriate way to administer an inhaler. If you are unsure, do not be afraid to ask further questions and get a detailed explanation. Your doctor will also tell you how to care for your MDI. For some, you may be able to remove the canister and clean the plastic holder with warm water to prevent any clogging. Other canisters cannot be removed from the plastic holder and will need to have the mouthpiece cleaned with a cloth. Your doctor will advise you on the best care routine possible for your inhaler.