How to use a preventer inhaler
There are several different types of preventer inhaler, which can be used in different ways. Always follow the advice of your doctor.
The most common type is a pMDI (pressurised metered-dose inhalers). If you have this one, follow these steps:
- Stand straight or sit upright.
- Take off the mouthpiece cover and check it is clean before you use it.
- Shake the inhaler several times.
- If it is a new inhaler or you haven’t used it for 5 days, make sure it is still working by pressing the canister for 1 or 2 puffs. If you cannot see a puff of the medicine in the air, it may be empty.
- Hold the inhaler upright with your thumb at the base just below the mouthpiece.
- Breathe out.
- Put your lips around the mouthpiece to make a tight seal. It should rest between your teeth.
- Breathe in and press down on the top of the inhaler. Continue breathing steadily and deeply as the inhaler releases a puff of medicine.
- Hold your breath for as long as you can to allow the medication to get into your airways.
- If you have been advised to take 2 puffs, wait 30 seconds before repeating the process.
- Always replace the mouthpiece cover immediately after use.
If you have difficulty breathing while using the inhaler, talk to your doctor about using a ‘spacer’. This will help you inhale the medication more easily, and allows more of the medicine to reach your lungs. Everyone using a pMDI inhaler should really use it with a spacer for this reason.
When should I use a preventer inhaler?
You should use your preventer inhaler every day as directed by your doctor. This is because the medicine needs to be in your system every day to work properly to prevent asthma attacks.
Should I use a preventer or reliever inhaler first?
If you have been prescribed a preventer inhaler and a reliever inhaler, you should use both of them as directed by your doctor. If you are experiencing an asthma attack, you should use your reliever inhaler first.
Generally, a preventer inhaler is used daily to help prevent symptoms from starting, and you use the reliever inhaler when you need to stop symptoms as they happen.
How many puffs should I take?
Your doctor will advise you on how many puffs to take. It is usually 1 or 2 puffs in the morning and 1 or 2 puffs in the evening.
How often should you use a preventer inhaler?
You should use your preventer inhaler daily and follow the instructions from your doctor. This is to ensure that your preventer inhaler works to maximum effect.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
Take your dose as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose. If this is the case, skip the one you missed. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you missed.
What should I do if I take too much?
It is unlikely to harm you if you accidentally take too many puffs. If you regularly take too much of a steroid inhaler, this can increase your chance of getting side effects.
If you are worried you have taken too much, talk to your doctor.
How to maintain your preventer inhaler
Clean your inhaler every week to stop it blocking when you need to use it:
- Take the metal canister from the casing and remove the mouthpiece
- Do not put the metal canister in water
- Hold the plastic casing under the tap and run warm water through it
- Make sure the casing is completely dry before putting the metal canister and mouthpiece on again.
- Shake the inhaler and spray it into the air once to make sure it works
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