Using your inhalers

Find out how the right inhaler technique will help you to manage your symptoms and reduce side effects.

Why your inhaler technique is important

Good inhaler technique, whether that’s your preventer or reliever inhaler, helps you to breathe the medicine straight into your lungs, where it’s needed. You’re less likely to get side effects because the medicine isn’t being absorbed into the rest of your body. This gives you the best chance of managing your asthma symptoms.

Even if you think your inhaler technique is OK, there may still be room for improvement so that more of the medicine gets deep into your lungs. Incorrect inhaler technique is associated with poor asthma control.

Watch our inhaler videos to help you use your inhaler correctly.

If you find it difficult to use your inhaler 

Check your inhaler technique with your GP, asthma nurse, or pharmacist. They might recommend a different type of inhaler if you’re finding your one difficult to use. For example, a dry powder inhaler can be much easier to use, as it doesn’t require as much hand strength as a metered-dose inhaler.

Some people use devices such as Haleraid® to help with pressing the inhaler canister. This device has been discontinued, but we’re looking into alternatives. Ask your GP, asthma nurse, or pharmacist for advice about other inhalers or tools to help if you have limited hand strength.

Benefits of good inhaler technique

If you’re using your preventer inhaler as prescribed, and using the right inhaler technique, it can help you:

  • cut your risk of an asthma attack
  • cope better with your usual asthma triggers
  • get a good night’s sleep
  • take part in exercise and family activities.
  • manage your asthma symptoms without needing to be prescribed higher doses.

Using the right technique for your inhaler

There are many different types of inhaler, so finding the right technique, especially if you’ve switched from one inhaler to another, can be tricky. Our inhaler videos can help you to learn the right technique for your specific type of inhaler.

Find out how to:

use a pMDI inhaler
use a Accuhaler inhaler
use a Spiromax inhaler
use a NEXThaler
use a Ellipta inhaler
use all other inhalers

You can also find out the right technique for using nasal spray.

You may want to look at the different breathing techniques for using a spacer:

Find out about single breath and hold
Find out about tidal breathing
We also have information on how to help your child use their inhaler.

Avoiding inhaler side effects

You’re less likely to get side effects from your medication if you use the right inhaler technique. When you don’t use the right technique, medicine can stick to the back of your throat, your tongue, or in your mouth. This can cause oral thrush. You may also get a sore mouth or throat, a hoarse voice, or a cough.

It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water after using a steroid inhaler, as this helps to remove any medicine that’s stuck in your mouth.

You may also benefit from using a spacer with your MDI inhaler. Spacers help the medicine get straight to your lungs and can reduce side effects as a result. Find out more about how spacers work.

Getting your technique checked

Whether it’s your annual asthma review or an asthma appointment, ask your GP or asthma nurse to check your inhaler technique. This is especially important if:

  • you’ve recently had symptoms or an asthma attack
  • you’ve been prescribed a new type of inhaler
  • the design of your inhaler has changed.

Even if you’re using the same inhaler you’ve always had, it can be easy for little mistakes to slip in. You can also ask your pharmacist to show you how to use your inhaler correctly.

Cleaning and looking after your inhaler

Keeping your inhaler clean will mean you can avoid problems like accidentally breathing in dust from the mouthpiece.

Storing it somewhere cool and dry is important too. Avoid keeping your inhaler on a hot windowsill, or in a damp bathroom cabinet. Always remember to check the use-by date of your inhaler too. If your inhaler is out-of-date or used, you can take it to your local pharmacy to dispose of.

Read our advice on cleaning and looking after your inhaler.

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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