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Are you using your metered-dose inhaler correctly?

Metered-dose inhalers (MDI) look simple enough — just press the button for relief, right? Maybe not. If you have any questions about your MDI you may not be utilizing it correctly. Often, we see patients in our clinic who believe their medication is not helping relieve their symptoms, when the real problem is that their medication is not being taken correctly. According the a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (Jan. 2015), only 7% of asthma patients are using the proper technique when taking their medication via MDI. Failure to shake the inhaler before each dose is the second most common mistake, but we’ll focus on the inhalation in this post.

The key to having the MDI relieve your symptoms is the step most people often miss. The medication has to get into your lungs to be effective. To do this, you must breathe out the air in your lungs before breathing in your MDI medication. Exhale, and feel your lungs deflate right before you take your medication. Then, press the MDI canister while taking a slow, deep breath to get your medication into your lungs. Hold your breath for 10 seconds to allow the medication to settle, then breathe out slowly.

If you’re having a hard time coordinating the timing of the spray with your inhalation, a spacer may be the tool you need to help direct your medication appropriately. A spacer creates a small holding chamber for the dose of medication, which slows the delivery of the medication. This makes it easier for you to inhale, and prevents medication from getting in your mouth and throat which can cause irritation.

Asthma can attack at any moment, and should have total confidence with your your MDI medication when an asthma attack strikes. BreatheAmerica is happy to work with you to find the best solution for all your allergy and asthma symptoms. If you’re not sure you’re using your MDI correctly, come in and let us review inhaler technique with you. Our clinics have practice inhalers without medication, which allows our patients do a few practice runs while a clinician watches to ensure correct inhaler use. Call us today to schedule a visit with a clinician.