Using your MDI (“puffer” inhaler)

See section ‘Using a spacer’ for how to use a metered dose inhaler with a spacer.

If you need to use your inhaler without a spacer, follow these steps:

1. Take off the cap and hold the inhaler upright.

2. Shake the inhaler to mix the medication with the propellant.

3. Sit upright, tilt head back slightly (as if you are sniffing).

4. Hold the inhaler away from your mouth and breathe out fully.

5. Hold the device upright, insert the mouthpiece into your mouth ensuring that your lips firmly seal the mouthpiece.

6. At the beginning of a slow deep breath, breathe in through the inhaler and activate the aerosol once.

7. Breathe in fully, remove the MDI from your mouth and hold your breath for five seconds or as long as comfortable.

8. Breathe out gently, away from the inhaler.

9. Rinse your mouth with water and spit out if you are using a corticosteroid-containing MDI. This reduces side effects such as a husky voice, sore throat, or fungal growth inside the mouth (oral thrush).

Caring for your metered dose inhaler

Clean your MDIs weekly to ensure they do not block.

1. Remove the plastic mouthpiece cap.

2. Remove the metal canister (don’t put it in water).

3. Rinse the mouthpiece and cap under warm water for at least 30 seconds.

4. Shake off any excess water and leave the mouthpiece and cap to dry overnight.

5. Put the metal canister back in, and replace the cap.

When to start a new metered dose inhaler:

It is possible to hear if there is any medicine left in the canister of a MDI by shaking the inhaler. As MDIs don’t have a dose counter window, it is wise to have a back-up inhaler on hand well before the inhaler is nearly empty.

For a useful How to video visit the National Asthma Council Australia.