Some medications for breathing difficulties are administered by metered-dose inhalers, including bronchodilators to open the bronchial tubes, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes, and medications to prevent asthmatic attacks. To use an inhaler, follow these guidelines:
1. Before using, shake the inhaler 5 or 6 times and remove the cap from the mouthpiece. If the inhaler has not been used for several days, test spray it into the air before using.
2. If it is not already attached, connect the spacer tube to the mouthpiece. (This tube helps distribute the medication evenly in your lungs.)
3. Breathe out normally, close your mouth around the spacer tube or mouthpiece, and be sure your tongue or teeth are not blocking the opening.
4. Breathe in slowly as you squeeze the inhaler once. Do not stop inhaling when you squeeze.
5. Continue to breathe in slowly for 5 to 7 seconds or for as long as comfortable.
6. Hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as comfortable, and then breathe out slowly.
7. Wait 1 minute before taking a second inhalation.
When you are finished with the inhaler, rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth, being sure to spit out the water.