How to Use a Metered Dose Inhaler With and Without a Spacer

metered dose inhaler, inhaler with spacer,Got asthma or COPD? If so, chances are you’ve used a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) as part of your daily treatment plan. Furthermore, when you got your initial prescription, you were hopefully taught how to use it by a competent health care professional who was carefully trained in the proper use of an MDI. But what if you misunderstood, or simply forgot the instructions, and you’ve been using your MDI incorrectly all along? If you left your doctor’s office feeling rushed and confused, it’s time for a little refresher with the following steps:

Using Your MDI with a Spacer

  1. Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer.
  2. Shake the inhaler canister thoroughly.
  3. Insert the inhaler canister into the open end of the mouthpiece; you’ll find the hole directly opposite the spacer’s mouthpiece.
  4. Completely exhale all of your air.
  5. Insert the mouthpiece between your teeth and close your lips around it tightly.
  6. Press down once on the top of the inhaler canister to release the medication into the spacer. You should be able to see a fine mist of medication trapped inside the chamber of the spacer.
  7. Inhale through your mouth slowly and completely. If you hear a horn-like sound coming from the spacer, you’re inhaling too rapidly and you need to slow down on your next breath.
  8. Try to hold your breath for 10 seconds to give the medicine enough time to reach your lungs. If this is difficult for you, hold your breath for as long as you can.
  9. Remove the spacer from your mouth and exhale slowly.
  10. Wait about one minute and repeat the steps above for as many times as your prescription indicates.
  11. Once you’ve taken all your puffs, replace the caps on the inhaler and spacer.
  12. If your inhaler contains a steroid, gargle and rinse your mouth thoroughly with mouthwash or plain water after each use.

Using Your MDI without a Spacer

There are two ways to use an MDI without a spacer. Either way is acceptable when done correctly:

  1. Remove the cap from the inhaler and shake it thoroughly.
  2. Place your thumb on the bottom of the inhaler canister and your index finger on top of the canister.
  3. Slightly tilt your head back and exhale all of your air.
  4. Either place the mouthpiece of the inhaler approximately 2 inches from your mouth or between your teeth with your lips sealed tightly around it.
  5. Inhale, then exhale completely.
  6. Press the top of the inhaler canister down while simultaneously breathing in as deeply as you can for 3 to 5 seconds.
  7. Try to hold your breath for 10 seconds, allowing the medication to reach your lungs.
  8. Wait one minute. If your doctor has ordered more than one puff, repeat the steps above for each puff ordered.
  9. Replace the cap on your inhaler and put it in a safe place.
  10. If your inhaler contains a steroid, gargle and rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain water or mouthwash after each use.



“How to Use an MDI Inhaler with a Spacer.” WebMD. Reviewed December 19, 2014.


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