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Patient education: How to use your dry powder inhaler (adults) (The Basics)

Patient education: How to use your dry powder inhaler (adults) (The Basics)

How do dry powder inhalers work? — Dry powder inhalers release medicine when you take a deep breath in from the mouthpiece.

This article has instructions for how to use a dry powder inhaler. The instructions are different for other types of inhalers, such as metered dose inhalers or soft mist inhalers.

Are there different types of dry powder inhalers? — Yes. There are 2 main types of dry powder inhalers:

Single-dose inhalers – These come with capsules of medicine. You need to put a capsule into the inhaler each time you use it. Examples of single-dose inhalers include indacaterol (brand name: Arcapta Neohaler), tiotropium (brand name: Spiriva Handihaler), and glycopyrrolate (brand name: Seebri Neohaler).

Multiple-dose inhalers – These come with all of the doses already in the inhaler. Examples of multiple-dose inhalers include mometasone (brand name: Asmanex Twisthaler), budesonide-formoterol (brand name: Symbicort), and fluticasone furoate-vilanterol (brand name: Breo Ellipta).

The directions for the 2 types of dry powder inhalers are slightly different.

How do I use my dry powder inhaler? — Each dry powder inhaler comes with its own directions. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to use your inhaler.

In general, these are the steps for using a dry powder inhaler:

Open the inhaler or take off the cover

Load a dose of medicine:

For single-dose inhalers, you load a dose by taking a pill out of its packaging and putting the pill into the inhaler. Then you need to push 1 or more buttons on the inhaler to poke holes in the pill.

For multiple-dose inhalers, you load a dose by sliding a lever or twisting the bottom (or another part) of the inhaler.

Hold your inhaler in the correct position – Some inhalers need to be held upright, but others need to be horizontal. Multiple-dose inhalers usually need to be horizontal.

Breathe out normally – but not into the inhaler

Put your mouth on the mouthpiece

Breathe in quickly and steadily, and as deeply as possible

Remove your mouth from the mouthpiece and hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds

Let your breath out—but not into the inhaler

If you are supposed to take 2 puffs of your inhaler, load another dose and breathe it in

Close your inhaler or replace the cover or cap

Rinse your mouth out with water, gargle, and spit out the water

For single-dose inhalers, open the inhaler, take out the used pill, and throw it away. You can do this right away, or the next time you take a dose.

Store your inhaler in a cool, dry place

Do I need to clean my inhaler? — No. Do not wash a dry powder inhaler with water or put it under water. If the mouthpiece gets dirty, you can wipe it with a dry cloth.

How do I know when my inhaler is empty? — Many dry powder inhalers come with a built-in dose counter. A counter keeps track of how many doses are left in your inhaler.

When the counter reads 0 (zero), it's time to throw out the inhaler because it has no more medicine in it. Make sure to have another inhaler on hand before the counter reads 0.

If your inhaler doesn't have a built-in counter, you need to keep track of the number of doses left in your inhaler. Based on how often you use your inhaler, you can figure out when you will need a refill and write this date down.

More on this topic

Patient education: Asthma in adults (The Basics)
Patient education: How to use your metered dose inhaler (adults) (The Basics)
Patient education: How to use your soft mist inhaler (adults) (The Basics)
Patient education: Medicines for asthma (The Basics)
Patient education: Inhaled corticosteroid medicines (The Basics)

Patient education: Inhaler techniques in adults (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Asthma treatment in adolescents and adults (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 03, 2022.
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