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Using your inhalers

Using an inhaler is the most common way of taking asthma medicines. It is also a very effective way because inhaling the medicine takes it straight into your lungs.

It is important that you take the medicine properly. Your doctor or asthma nurse should explain how to use your inhaler so that every dose you take gives you the most benefit. It is very common to experience problems using inhalers. Talk to your doctor or asthma nurse specialist and they will be able to check your inhaler technique or may give you a different inhaler.

They may also suggest that you try one of the following options:

  • Large volume spacers are available on prescription. These make aerosol inhalers easier to use and more effective. They trap the medicine inside the spacer, so you don't have to worry about pressing the inhaler and breathing in at exactly the same time. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for details.
  • If you have arthritis in your hand, or have difficulty holding the inhaler, a device like the Haleraid or Turboaid might be useful. The Haleraid fits onto some spray-type inhalers. It allows you to release medicines by applying pressure with the palm of your hand. This can be easier than pressing the canister down. Your doctor or asthma nurse will be able to advise you. The Haleraid is not available on prescription, but your pharmacist can order it direct from the manufacturers, Allen & Hanburys. Your pharmacist can also order the Turboaid from the manufacturers, Astra Zeneca.

How to use your inhaler:

A)Metered dose inhaler

  1. Remove cap and shake inhaler.
  2. Breathe out gently.
  3. Put mouthpiece in mouth and as you begin to breathe in, which should be slow and deep, press canister down and continue to inhale steadily and deeply.
  4. Hold breath for 10 seconds, or as long as is comfortable.
  5. For a second dose wait for approximately 30 seconds before repeating steps 1-4. Only use the device for the number of doses on the label, then start a new inhaler.


  1. Unscrew and lift off white cover. Hold turbohaler upright and twist grip forwards and backwards as far as it will go. You should hear a click.
  2. Breathe out gently, put mouthpiece between lips and breathe in as deeply as possible. Even when a full dose is taken there may be no taste.
  3. Remove Turbohaler from mouth and breathe out slowly.
  4. Replace white cover. To take another dose repeat steps 1-3. When a red line appears at top of window on device, there are approximately 20 doses left. Some Turbohalers have a dose counter to tell you how many doses are left in the inhaler.

C) Accuhaler

  1. Hold the outer casing of the Accuhaler in one hand whilst pushing thumb grip away with the thumb of the other hand until a click is heard.
  2. Hold Accuhaler with mouthpiece towards you, slide lever away until it clicks. This makes the dose available for inhalation and moves the dose counter on.
  3. Breathe out gently. Holding the device horizontally put mouthpiece in mouth and suck in quickly and deeply.
  4. Remove Accuhaler from mouth and hold breath for about 10 seconds or for as long as is comfortable.
  5. To close, slide thumb grip back towards you as far as it will go until it clicks.
  6. For a second dose, repeat sections 1-5. The counter on top of your accuhaler tells you how many doses are left. Numbers 5 to 0 will appear in red, to warn you when there are only a few doses left.