To use a metered-dose inhaler, remove the cap and shake it vigorously. Breathe out completely, and hold the inhaler 1 to 2 inches from your mouth. Start to breathe in slowly as you press the inhaler. Inhale deeply, then hold your breath as you count to 10, instructs MedlinePlus.
Signs that suggest incorrect usage of a metered-dose inhaler include routinely having to take more puffs than the number prescribed by the doctor, wrong timing when breathing in and pressing the inhaler, and feeling the inhaler spray land on the tongue or back of the throat. Other signs include taking in quick gasps and not holding your breath when taking the medication, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
People, especially children and older adults, who have trouble using an inhaler may opt to use a spacer. This is a chamber that is attached to the mouthpiece of the inhaler that holds the discharged cloud of medication until the patient inhales it, explains the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. A spacer helps prevent development of an oral yeast infection or a hoarse voice and increases the amount of medicine that gets delivered directly to the airways, notes WebMD. It also reduces the amount of medication deposited on the mouth and throat and therefore reduces unwanted side effects, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.