Steps for using an inhaler
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Quick-relief medications, like albuterol, are usually delivered by a device called an inhaler, that releases the medication through the mouth and directly into the lungs. These inhalers can be used by themselves or with an additional device attached to it called a spacer. A spacer enhances inhalation of medication in those not coordinated enough to breathe in or press down on an inhaler within the proper time of medication release.

Steps for using an inhaler with or without spacer:

  1. Take cap off and shake the inhaler.  Prime (see below) if necessary.
  2. Breathe out all the way
  3. Hold inhaler towards mouth as prescribed by doctor
  4. Breathe in slowly through the mouth, press down on the inhaler one time.  (If using spacer, first press down on inhaler, then breathe in slowly)
  5. With spacer:  Take one slow deep breath after each puff from the spacer
  6. Without spacer:  Hold breath while counting to 10 slowly
  7. Wait about 1 minute between puffs for quick-relief medications

Priming an inhaler:

When you use an inhaler for the first time, or if you have not used one in a while, the inhaler may not deliver the correct amount of medicine with the first puff. Therefore, before using the inhaler, you may have to test or prime it.

To do so, insert the medicine canister firmly into the clean mouthpiece according to the manufacturer’s directions. Check to make sure that the canister is placed properly into the mouthpiece. Take the cap off the mouthpiece, and shake the inhaler 3 or 4 times. This shaking will allow for equal mixing of the medication’s ingredients. Hold the inhaler well away from you, at arm’s length, and press the top of the canister, spraying the medicine into the air 2 times. Look to see if a fine mist of medication has been released. The inhaler will now be ready to provide the right amount of medicine when you use it.

How to use a metered dose asthma inhaler with a spacer or valued holding chamber

How to use an Autohaler asthma inhaler



  • The priming of inhalers can be different for each inhaler.  It is necessary to prime the inhaler if it is new, or if it has been sitting for several weeks. 
  • Please inform parent and/or school nurse if student is using inhaler excessively – greater than two times per week (unless doctor’s note says to do so for a short term illness or when used as a preventative prior to exercise).


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