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How to use a metered dose inhaler

Patient information A-Z

You have been given an inhaler to help with the management of your child’s asthma. Medications for asthma are usually inhaled as this goes straight to the airways where they are needed. There are two main types of treatment for asthma: preventers and relievers.

Preventers are used to help control swelling and inflammation in the airways. They take about two to four weeks to build up effectiveness and should then be taken regularly even when your child is feeling well. Preventer inhalers are various colours.

Everyone with asthma should have a reliever inhaler. Relievers are medications taken to relieve asthma symptoms such as cough and wheeze. They relax the muscles in the airways within five to ten minutes making it easier to breathe. Reliever inhalers are usually blue.

There are many different devices for taking preventer or reliever inhalers. It is important that your child’s inhaler technique is checked annually; getting the inhaler technique right is very important because it can help to manage asthma symptoms better.

Further information can be found from Asthma + Lung UK Website (opens in a new tab)

or phone 0300 222 5800

Contact: Phone clinical nurse specialist 01223 216585

IVAX Salomol CFC-Free Inhaler
IVAX Salomol CFC-Free Inhaler

The most effective way to use a metered dose inhaler is with a spacer device as more of the inhaled medicine gets down into the lungs. Please ask the paediatric asthma specialist nurses for info sheets on how to use a metered dose inhaler with a spacer.

  1. Remove the mouthpiece cover, and hold the inhaler upright with your thumb at the base and your first finger at the top of the inhaler
  2. Shake the inhaler
  3. If this is a new inhaler or the inhaler has not been used in the past 5 days or more, press down on the inhaler canister to release a test spray into the air with the mouthpiece pointing away from you
  4. Facing away from the inhaler device, breathe out gently as far as you comfortably can
  5. Keeping the inhaler upright, put the mouthpiece in your mouth and ensure your lips are tightly sealed around the mouthpiece
  6. At the start of breathing in, press down on the inhaler canister once whilst continuing to breathe in slowly and deeply until your lungs feel full
  7. Remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for 5-10 seconds or for as long as you comfortably can
  8. Breathe out gently away from your inhaler
  9. For further doses, wait 30-60 seconds and repeat steps 2 to 7
  10. Replace the mouthpiece cover
  11. If your inhaler contains steroid medication, rinse your mouth with water after inhalation
  12. Some metered dose inhalers have a dose counter, check this to make sure your inhaler is not empty
QR code to access the Asthma and Lung UK video
Use this QR code to access the Asthma + Lung UK video on how to use a pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI)


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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
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Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151