Metered-dose inhaler administration
Metered-dose inhalers usually come in three pieces:
- A mouthpiece
- A cap that goes over the mouthpiece
- A canister full of medication.
Using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) seems simple, but many patients do not use it the right way. When you use your MDI the wrong way, less medicine gets to your lungs. This is why is is recommended that you use a spacer device, which connects to the mouthpiece. The inhaled medicine goes into this tube first, and then you take two deep breathes to breath the medicine into you lungs. It has been shown that using a spacer wastes a lot less medicine than directly spraying the medicine into your mouth.
Spacers come in various shapes and sizes. Ask your doctor which is best for you or your child. Almost all children over age 3 can use a spacer.
You do not need a spacer for dry powder inhalers.
The following steps discuss how to take the medicine without a spacer. They are based on instructions from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Review Date: 12/13/2006
Reviewed By: John Goldenring, MD, MPH, JD, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.