Inhalers: Correct use of a Metered-Dose Inhaler
Steps for checking how much medicine is in the canister
1. If the canister is new, it is full.
2. If the canister has been used repeatedly, it might be empty: (Check product label to see how many
inhalations should be in each canister.)
3. To check how much medicine is left in the canister, put the canister (not the mouthpiece) in a cup
• If the canister sinks to the bottom, it is full.
• If the canister floats sideways on the surface, it is empty.
Steps for using the inhaler
1. Remove the cap and hold inhaler upright.
2. Shake the inhaler.
3. Tilt the head back slightly and breathe out.
4. Position the inhaler in one of the following ways (A is Optimal. but C is acceptable for those who
have difficulty with A or B):
A. Open mouth with
inhaler 1-2 inches
B. Use spacer (this is
for young children).
C. In the mouth.
5. Press down on inhaler to release medication as you start to breathe in slowly.
6. Breathe in slowly (3-5 seconds).
7. Hold breath for 10 seconds to allow medicine to reach deeply into lungs.
8. Repeat puffs as directed. Waiting 1 minute between puffs may permit second puff to penetrate the
9. Spacers are useful for all patients. They are particularly recommended for young children and
older adults and for use with inhaled steroids.
Note: Inhaled dry powder capsules require a different inhalation technique. To use a dry powder inhaler, it is important to close the mouth tightly around the mouthpiece of the inhaler and to inhale rapidly.