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Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler Without a Spacer

Shake inhaler and remove cap: Step 1

A man removing the cap from an inhaler
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Shake the inhaler as directed, and remove the cap. Check the inhaler instructions to see if you need to prime your inhaler before you use it. If it needs priming, follow the instructions on how to prime your inhaler.

Hold inhaler upright: Step 2

A man holding the inhaler upright
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Hold the inhaler upright with the mouthpiece at the bottom.

Tilt head back and breathe out: Step 3

A man tilting his head back and breathing out
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Tilt your head back slightly, and breathe out slowly and completely.

Position the inhaler: Step 4

A man holding the inhaler in two positions
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There are two ways to position the inhaler when using it without a spacer. You can hold the inhaler 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 2 in. (5.0 cm) in front of your open mouth, without closing your lips over it. This method might be hard for some people. Or you can place the inhaler in your mouth. This is the least efficient way to use the inhaler.

Start breathing in and press on the inhaler: Step 5

A man pressing on the inhaler and breathing in
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Start to breathe in slowly, evenly, and deeply; press down on the inhaler one time (start to breathe in, then press); and continue to breathe in slowly.

Hold your breath: Step 6

A man holding his breath while looking at his watch
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Hold your breath for 10 seconds. This will let the medicine settle in your lungs.

If you need to take a second dose, wait 30 to 60 seconds to allow the inhaler valve to refill.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised February 22, 2013

Last Revised: February 22, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology

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