Covers using an inhaler to get needed medicine into lungs quickly. Describes dry powder inhalers, how they work, and why to use them. Includes pictures on how to use a dry powder inhaler.
Breathing Problems: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler
People who have
asthma or other lung diseases that make it hard to
breathe may use an inhaler to get the medicine they need into their lungs.
Inhaled medicine works faster than the same medicine in a pill. An inhaler also
lets you take less medicine than you would if you took it as a pill.
You may have used a metered-dose inhaler in the past. But a dry powder
inhaler is different. These instructions are for using a dry powder inhaler.
A dry powder inhaler lets you breathe medicine
into your lungs quickly.
A dry powder inhaler is breath-activated.
This means that when you breathe in through the inhaler, the inhaler releases
the medicine into your lungs.
Dry powder inhalers come in different
shapes and sizes. Some come with the medicine already loaded inside the
inhaler. With other inhalers, you have to put in the medicine right before you
use it. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to load the medicine into
A dry powder inhaler
delivers medicine in the form of a fine powder. It lets you breathe medicine
into your lungs quickly. Dry powder inhalers are breath-activated. This means
that when you breathe in through the inhaler, the inhaler releases the medicine
into your lungs.
Dry powder inhalers come in different shapes and
sizes. The way you put (load) medicine in the inhaler depends on the type of
inhaler you have. Some dry powder inhalers come with medicine already loaded
inside. With other dry powder inhalers, you put the medicine in the inhaler
each time before you use it. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to
load the medicine into your inhaler.
Test Your Knowledge
When you use a dry powder inhaler, the medicine is
released into your lungs right away.
Is simple to use. Because the dry powder
inhaler is breath-activated, you don't have to pump the inhaler and breathe at
the same time like you do with other inhalers. The medicine stays in the
inhaler until you breathe in.
Gets the right amount of medicine
into your lungs right away.
Can help keep your symptoms under
control and minimize long-term damage to your lungs.
May prevent or
reduce side effects compared to taking the same medicine in pill form.
Talk with your doctor,
respiratory therapist, or
pharmacist to make sure that you are using your
inhaler the right way. It may help to practice in front of a mirror. Use the
inhaler exactly as prescribed.
Keep your inhaler in a cool, dry
place. Do not store your inhaler in the bathroom. Moisture in the air can cause
the dry powder to clump together and clog the inhaler.
of how much medicine is in the inhaler. Some dry powder inhalers have dose
counters that show how many doses are left in the inhaler. If your inhaler does
not have a dose counter, your doctor or pharmacist can teach you how to keep
track of how much medicine is left.
Follow your doctor's or
pharmacist's instructions for cleaning your inhaler. Some powder may build up
on the inhaler, but you don't need to clean it every day.
Check that you have the correct medicine. If
you use several inhalers, put a label on each one so that you know which one to
use at the right time.
Remove the inhaler cap.
dose of medicine into the inhaler as directed by your doctor or
Tilt your head back a little, and breathe out slowly
and completely. Hold the inhaler away from your mouth when you breathe out. Do
not breathe out into the inhaler. This can blow some of the powder out of the
inhaler. Also, the moisture in your breath can cause the dry powder to clump
together and clog the inhaler.
Place the inhaler in your mouth, and
close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
Inhale quickly and
deeply through your mouth for 2 or 3 seconds. This pulls the powder from the
inhaler into your lungs. After you have inhaled the powder, take the inhaler
out of your mouth.
Hold your breath for 10 seconds. This will let
the medicine settle in your lungs. Then slowly breathe out through pursed lips.
Repeat steps 1 through 7 if you need to take a second dose.
are using an inhaler with corticosteroid medicine, gargle and rinse out your
mouth with water after you use the inhaler. Do not swallow the water.
Swallowing the water will increase the chance that the medicine will get into
your bloodstream. This may make you more likely to have side effects from the
Test Your Knowledge
When you use a dry powder inhaler, you inhale quickly
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.