Mastering your Inhaler Technique

Are you getting the best out of your inhaler?

Published: Wednesday 21 September 2016


inhaler technique

If you suffer from asthma, you probably already know how to use your inhaler. But are you getting the most out of it? Inhalers are most effective when used correctly, as it means the medications can go down into your airways where it’s needed and you are able to maximise the benefit of the medication. These include:

  • Reducing the risk of an asthma attack.
  • Able to cope better with asthma triggers.
  • Improved sleep.
  • Taking less time off work.
  • Able to exercise more regularly.

Here are a few tips to help your ventolin inhaler go further.

  1. Remove the cap from the inhaler.
  2. Shake your inhaler for 5 whole seconds before use.
  3. If you have not used the inhaler for 48 hours, pump the canister once before using it to prime the inhaler. This is to ensure that the next dose will have the correct amount of the medication.
  4. Sit up straight and tilt your head slightly backwards.
  5. Exhale completely away from inhaler before raising it to your lips.
  6. Seal your lips around the mouthpiece of the inhaler.
  7. Start to breathe in slowly and deeply before you press the canister to give the medication the best chance of reaching your lungs.
  8. Press the canister and breathe in deeply and slowly until your lungs are full.
  9. Hold your breath for 10 seconds minimum.
  10. Once the time has elapsed, breathe out through your mouth.
  11. Wait for at least 30 seconds between puffs.
  12. Remember to replace the lid on your inhaler to prevent dirt, lint and fluff entering it and clean it regularly.

You must not use more than 8 puffs in 24 hours.

If you have a steroid inhaler, remember to rinse out your mouth after all the puffs to prevent oral thrush and a sore throat and make sure you spit out the water. Ventolin is not a steroid-based medication, so there is no need to rinse out your mouth if you are using one of these inhalers.

In an emergency such as a severe asthma attack, keep calm and don’t lie down. Sit up straight and take single puffs 30-60 seconds apart. If you do not feel better after 10 puffs, call 999. If the emergency services are taking more than 15 minutes, take another few puffs about 30 seconds apart.

Iris Barbier

Authored by Iris Barbier

Pharmacy Assistant


Born in France, Iris moved to the UK to study Biological Sciences at London Metropolitan University. Upon graduating, Iris moved up north, where she completed an MA in Science Journalism at the University of Lincoln.

As a qualified science journalist, Iris uses her expertise to write content for Pharmica’s online Health Centre. She ensures our patients get specialist knowledge on medical conditions and how to treat them.

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