Using your inhalers

Most people with asthma use an inhaler. It’s the most effective way of taking asthma medicines.

Using the right inhaler technique helps you breathe the medicine straight into your lungs, where it’s needed. You’re less likely to get side effects, because not much of the medicine is absorbed into the rest of your body, and you’re giving yourself the best chance of managing your symptoms.

Want to check you’re using your inhaler properly? Watch our short videos

How does good inhaler technique help you manage your asthma?

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
  • feel less breathless climbing stairs
  • cope better with your usual asthma triggers
  • get a good night’s sleep
  • have less time off work
  • take part in exercise and family activities.

Good inhaler technique can really make a difference to how well you manage your asthma. It could also mean you’ll be able to manage your asthma symptoms without needing to be prescribed higher doses.

Read our tips on how to avoid common inhaler mistakes here.

 

How does good inhaler technique help you avoid side effects of medicines?

Using the wrong technique can also mean you’re more likely to get side effects like oral thrush or a sore throat, because the medicine might be hitting the back of your throat, or just staying on your tongue or in your mouth. Good inhaler technique means the medicine goes down into your airways where it’s needed. 

Are you using the correct inhaler technique?

Some people tell us inhalers can be hard to use. Even if you think your inhaler technique is OK, it might not be – a recent survey we carried out found that up to a third of people with asthma aren’t using their inhaler in the right way.

Find out if you’re doing it right by watching our short video guides.

Getting your inhaler technique checked by your nurse or GP

Whenever you go to see your GP or nurse about your asthma, whether it’s your annual asthma review, or another asthma appointment, ask them to check your inhaler technique. This is especially important if you’ve recently had symptoms or an asthma attack.

There are lots of different inhalers and they work in different ways, so if you’re prescribed a new type of inhaler, ask to be shown how to use it correctly.

Even if you’re using the same inhaler you’ve always had, it’s easy for little mistakes to slip in. Or you may need to update your technique because the design of your inhaler may have changed.

You can also ask your pharmacist to show you how to use your inhalers correctly. 

Cleaning your inhaler

Keeping your inhaler clean and storing it properly will mean it works at its best and you can avoid problems like accidentally breathing in bits of fluff from the mouthpiece.

Read our advice on cleaning and looking after your inhaler.

 

Last reviewed November 2018

Next review due November 2021