Request Appointment

Discharge Instructions: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler

Your doctor has prescribed medication that you will breathe in (inhale) by using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). An inhaler is a pressurized sprayer that delivers a measured amount of medication. Some inhalers come with a spacer (holding chamber), while other types do not. Be sure you know which type of inhaler you have. It’s important to use it the right way. Otherwise, less medication gets to your lungs.

Home Care

MDI Without Spacer

  • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler.

  • Breathe out all the way.

  • Place the inhaler in your mouth. Close your lips around it.

  • As you breathe in deeply, press down on the inhaler to release the medication. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Then slowly breathe out.

Illustration showing four steps: shaking the inhaler, breathing out, inhaling medicine, and a clock showing 10 seconds.

MDI with Spacer

  • Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer and shake the inhaler.

  • Breathe out. Put the spacer between your teeth and close your lips tightly around the spacer.

  • Spray 1 puff into the spacer by pressing down on the inhaler. Then slowly breathe in as deeply as you can. (If you breathe in too quickly, you may hear a whistling sound in the spacer.)

  • Take the spacer out of your mouth. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Then slowly breathe out.

Illustration of an inhaler and a spacer.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Shortness of breath that is not relieved by your quick-relief medication

  • Trouble walking and talking because of shortness of breath

  • Blue lips or fingernails

  • Severe wheezing

  • Peak flow readings less than 50 percent of your personal best


Was this helpful?

Yes No

Tell us more.

Check all that apply.

Last question: How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Extremely

Thank You!

 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.