If your doctor or your child's pediatrician gave you a prescription for an asthma inhaler, it's important to make sure you, and your child, learn how to assemble the inhaler properly and use it correctly every time. Ask your doctor, physician's assistant, or nurse to show you how to assemble the asthma inhaler and use it, with a spacer if you plan to use one.
Then, when you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to show you and the family member who will be using it how to put the inhaler together again so you can practice those actions at home before your child needs it. Inhalers may contain asthma medications for daily use, like inhaled corticosteroids for prevention of attacks. Another breathing treatment option may be a quick relief medication, like short-acting beta-agonists, in a rescue inhaler. The physician will let you know which inhaler and asthma medication is recommended for your family member.
Using a spacer helps get more medicine into your lungs. Remember, many people don't use an inhaler the right way and medicine winds up in the back of their mouths instead of their lungs, where it's needed most. It's important to familiarize children with asthma on how to use their inhaler with mouthpiece correctly so they feel confident administering this medicine on their own when you or another caregiver aren't around.
How use an inhaler for asthma with a spacer correctly.
- Take off the inhaler cap. Prime the inhaler as needed according to manufacturer's instructions.
- If you're using a spacer, remove the cap and look into the mouthpiece to make sure nothing is in it. Place the inhaler on the end of the spacer.
- Make sure you are standing up or sitting up straight.
- Take a deep breath in. Tilt your head back slightly and blow out completely to clear your lungs.
- Then, place the mouthpiece of the spacer in your mouth, closing your lips around it to form a tight seal.
- As you breathe in, press down firmly on the top of the medicine canister to release one dose or puff of medicine. Continue breathing in as slowly and deeply as you can for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Hold your breath and count to 10.
- Take the inhaler out of your mouth. Breathe out slowly.
- If you are supposed to take more puffs of medicine per dose, wait 1 minute and repeat steps 3 through 8.
- Disassemble the spacer and inhaler. Put the cap back on your inhaler and replace the cap on the holding chamber.
- If you're using an inhaled corticosteroid, rinse your mouth out with water to help prevent an infection in the mouth.
(Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health website.)
If you are using inhaled, quick-relief medicine to control or relieve symptoms of an asthma attack, wait about one minute before you take your next puff.
If using a spacer, follow the manufacturer's directions on the inhaler about how to properly clean and care for the asthma inhaler with spacer.