Page header image

Dry Powder Inhaler, How to Use

Most asthma medicines are given with an inhaler that lets your child breathe medicine directly into the lungs. There are different kinds of inhalers. Metered-dose inhalers contain a gas that helps the medicine get into the lungs. Dry powder inhalers do not contain a gas. Instead, your child will breathe in the medicine with a quick deep breath while his lips are on the inhaler.

Many children find the dry powder inhaler easy to use because they don't have to pump the canister while breathing in. Your child just inhales quickly and forcefully with the inhaler in his mouth. Since dry power inhalers need a forceful deep breath to work, they may not work well for very young children.

Several different types of medicines are available as dry powder inhalers, including bronchodilators to open airways and make breathing easier, and steroids to lesson irritation and swelling of the airways. Some inhalers come with the medicine already inside. Others use a capsule that you put in the inhaler right before you use it.

Dry powder inhalers are not used with spacers (a small tube or bag that holds the medicine while you breathe it in to your lungs).

Read and follow the instructions that come in the medicine package. If you do not understand how to use this medicine, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to explain.

The basic way to use a dry powdered inhaler is:

  1. Your child should turn his head away from the inhaler, and breathe out to the end of a normal breath. It is important that your child not breathe into the inhaler. Breathing into a dry powder inhaler can clog it.
  2. Your child should put the mouthpiece between his lips, and close his lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  3. Your child should breathe in through his mouth as deeply as he can. He should not breathe through his nose.
  4. Your child should hold his breath and remove the mouthpiece from his mouth. It’s best to hold the breath for 5 to 10 seconds, or as long as is comfortable. This gives the medicine time to settle in your child’s airways and lungs.
  5. After your child turns his head away from the inhaler, he should breathe out slowly. (He should not breathe into the inhaler.)

Keep the inhaler dry. Do not wash it. You may use a dry cloth to wipe it clean.

Make sure that your child rinses his mouth with water after each use to help prevent thrush (a fungal infection that shows up as white spots on the tongue and in the mouth). The rinse water should be spit out.

If your child uses more than one inhaled medicine, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist which your child should use first. Use inhaled medicines 10 minutes apart from each other.

Do not store an inhaler in places that may get very hot or cold (like a car), or in a damp place like a bathroom.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-17
Last reviewed: 2014-12-16
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
Page footer image