Top 10 Inhaler Mistakes Adults Make Make an Appointment Ask a Question Search Conditions This information has been reviewed and approved by Flavia Cecilia Lega Hoyte, MD (May 2022). Want to use this on your website? Fill out the content usage request form and then copy this code: Summary: Top 10 Inhaler Mistakes Adults Make Inhaled asthma medicine needs to reach the airways to work. Here are 10 common mistakes made when using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) and how to correct them. 1. Slouching FIX IT: Sitting up straight or standing allows the lungs to fully inhale and provides more power to exhale. 2. Using an empty inhaler FIX IT: Request a refill when the inhaler has 30 puffs or doses left. 3. Not shaking or priming the inhaler* FIX IT: Shake the inhaler canister vigorously (about 10 to 15 times) for the medication to be ready to work. When using a new inhaler, prime it by releasing three to four test sprays. Prime again if not used for several weeks. *This tip applies to MDI inhalers. Diskus or dry powder inhalers do not require shaking. 4. Using an MDI inhaler without a spacer FIX IT: A spacer helps more of the medicine get to the airways. Insert the inhaler into the spacer. Spray one puff of medicine and inhale slowly. Hold your breath for a count of 10 and exhale slowly. 5. Spraying several puffs of inhaler into spacer FIX IT: Spray only one puff of the inhaler into the spacer for each breath. Breathe out before inhaling. Inhale and hold your breath for a count of 10, then exhale. Repeat for the number of puffs the doctor prescribed. 6. Holding the head too far forward or backward FIX IT: The head needs to be in a normal position, not too far back or too far forward, to help make a direct path for the medicine to reach the airways. 7. Tongue or teeth in the way of spacer/inhaler opening FIX IT: Put the mouthpiece of the spacer/inhaler in the mouth above the tongue, under the top teeth. 8. Mouth not tight enough around spacer/inhaler FIX IT: Close the lips around the mouthpiece of the spacer or inhaler so air does not escape. 9. Directing spacer/inhaler at tongue or roof of mouth FIX IT: Aim the spacer/inhaler at the back of the throat, so the medicine reaches the lungs. 10. Inhaling medicine too fast FIX IT: Inhale slowly. A whistle sound made when using a spacer means the inhalation is too fast. These tips are not applicable to breath-activated and powder inhalers. Reminders Follow instructions for using your inhaler. Gargle and spit after inhaling a steroid. Show your inhaler technique to your provider. Clean the inhaler and spacer according to instructions. Asthma Facts 1 in 11 adults has asthma One-third of adults with asthma miss work Most prevalent among ages 18-24 10 asthma deaths occur each day More Information on Asthma What is asthma? What are Long-Term Control Medications What are Quick-Relief Medications Different Types of Inhaled Medications How to Use Devices for Inhaled Medications You may use this infographic or our Top 10 Inhaler Mistakes Adults Make (pdf) with permission by completing our content usage request form.