Inhaler devices for respiratory medicines

Most inhaled medicines that are used for respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) come with their own inhaler device. These devices are often referred to as ‘puffers’. When used correctly, puffers — and other devices such as spacers — can help you get the most benefit from your inhaled medicines.

The type of inhaler or other device you use will depend on the medicine you are taking and your ability to use the device properly.

Inhaler technique is important

Using your inhaler properly is vital to insure that you get the best possible benefit from your inhaled medicine, regardless of the type of device you are using or the medicine you are taking.

Incorrect inhaler technique can result in worsening symptoms, increased hospital visits and increased treatment costs. Despite this, as many as 90% of people don’t use their inhalers correctly.

Is your inhaler technique correct?

Ask your health professional to show you how to use your inhaler correctly and to check regularly that you continue to use it properly.

Your inhaler technique may need to be corrected if:

  • taking your inhaled medicine doesn’t seem to improve your breathing
  • a mist (of medicine particles) comes out of the top of the inhaler when you use it
  • a mist (of medicine particles) comes out of your mouth when you breathe out after using your inhaler
  • taking your inhaler medicine is felt mostly on your tongue.

For all devices, training on how to use them correctly is very important. This helps to ensure that the right amount of medicine is delivered to your lungs and helps to prevent side effects.

If you are not sure that you are using your inhaled medicines properly, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse. They can show you how to use your inhalers and other devices, check your technique, or recommend a different type of device for you.

How to use your inhaler correctly

The correct use of pressurised metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs), dry powder inhalers (DPIs), spacers and nebulisers involves a series of steps. Different devices can work very differently, so make sure you are familiar with the correct technique for your inhaled medicines.

Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to show you how to use your inhalers and other devices correctly. Instructions for use may also be found in the consumer medicine information (CMI) or on the packaging for your medicine.

Teaching videos

Watch our videos to learn more about how to use a pressurised metered-dose inhaler (with or without a spacer), an Autohaler, and dry powder inhaler devices (including an Accuhaler, HandiHaler and Turbuhaler).

Find out more