How to use a reliever inhaler
Always follow these steps when using your reliever inhaler:
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.
- 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 in 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.
When should I use a reliever inhaler?
You should use your reliever inhaler when you start to have symptoms.
If you know you are going to be in an environment with substances (such as animal hair, dust or pollen) that trigger your asthma or you have exercise-induced asthma, you can use your reliever inhaler 10 to 15 minutes before to help stop symptoms from starting.
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 having an asthma attack, you should use your reliever inhaler.
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 you should take.
For most relievers, you can take 2 puffs up to a maximum of 4 times in any 24 hours. If you need to take more than this amount, you should seek urgent medical advice.
For some people, 1 puff every 4 hours may be enough to relieve the symptoms. Whether you take 1 puff or 2 puffs, you should only use your inhaler 4 times in any 24 hours.
How often should you use a reliever inhaler?
You should use your reliever inhaler to help when you are having symptoms of asthma. Your doctor will advise you on how many puffs you should take. This is usually 1 or 2 each time, with a maximum of 8 puffs in a day.
If you have severe symptoms such as an asthma attack, you can safely take up to 10 puffs, with 30 seconds between each puff. You can then repeat this 10 minutes later. Always shake the inhaler between each session of 10 puffs. If you are needing to take 10 puffs in this way, you must also seek medical advice, as your asthma may suddenly get worse.
Talk to your doctor if you find you need to take more puffs than the recommended dose.
What should I do if I take too much?
If you use your reliever inhaler too much, you can feel shaky or as though your heart is beating too fast. This usually goes away within 30 minutes or a few hours at most. If you also have chest pain, seek urgent medical advice.
What should I do if my reliever inhaler doesn’t work?
You can check if your inhaler is working properly by releasing a puff into the air and checking you can see the medicine. If you cannot, it may be empty or clogged. Clean your inhaler every week to stop it from getting blocked.
If your inhaler is working properly, but it is not helping to alleviate your symptoms, you must seek urgent medical advice. It is likely your asthma attack is severe and not being controlled by medication, which means it might quickly get worse.
How to look after your reliever 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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