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Jan.19.2021
 How to Use a Dry Powder Inhaler

How to Use a Dry Powder Inhaler

A dry powder inhaler (DPI) is a handheld device that lets you breathe medicine into your lungs (inhale). The medicine used in a DPI is a very fine powder. It is important to take fast, deep breaths through the mouthpiece of a DPI to get the full amount of medicine.
You may need a DPI as part of your long-term treatment to prevent or control breathing problems. Dry powder inhalers usually do not have medicine that takes away sudden symptoms.
There are several types of dry powder inhalers. The most common are:
  • Disc inhaler. These are shaped like a disc. The medicine is loaded when you slide the lever.
  • Twist inhaler. The medicine is loaded when you twist the inhaler.
Follow the directions for use from your health care provider. Always refer to the package insert that comes with your dry powder inhaler for specific instructions.

What are the risks?

  • If you do not use your inhaler correctly, medicine might not reach your lungs to help you breathe.
  • The medicine in the DPI can cause side effects, such as:
    • Mouth sores (thrush).
    • Cough.
    • Hoarseness.
    • Shakiness.
    • Headache.

Supplies needed:

Dry powder inhaler. The medicine that you breathe in comes inside or with the DPI.
  • Some devices have a chamber that is pre-loaded with medicine (multi-dose). The device has a preset number of doses (inhalations) inside of it.
  • Some devices have medicine capsules that need to be loaded into them. The device will need to be loaded with a capsule each time a dose is needed (single dose).

How to use a dry powder inhaler

The specific steps for use will vary depending on the type of dry powder inhaler you have. In general, you should follow these steps:
  1. Remove any gum or candy from your mouth.
  2. Stand or sit up straight.
  3. Load the medicine in your inhaler, depending on the type of DPI you have.
  4. Turn your head away from your inhaler. Breathe out. Do not breathe out into the mouthpiece.
  5. Turn your head back to the mouthpiece and seal your lips around it.
  6. Take a quick, deep breath in through your mouth. Do not breathe through your nose.
  7. Hold your breath for 10 seconds.
  8. Remove the inhaler from your mouth, turn your head, and breathe out slowly.
  9. You may not feel the medicine going into your lungs. This is normal.
  10. Check the dose indicator number on the inhaler. It should go down when you use it.
  11. Rinse your mouth with water. Do not swallow the water.

Follow these instructions at home:

Caring for your DPI

  • Store your inhaler in a dry place at room temperature. Do not store it in your bathroom.
  • Do not breathe into the inhaler.
  • Do not drop or shake your inhaler.
  • Do not wash your inhaler. If the mouthpiece gets dirty, use a dry cloth to wipe it clean. The medicine in your inhaler is a powder and must be kept dry.
  • Keep track of your doses. When the dose counter is low, it is time to pick up a new inhaler at your pharmacy. When the dose number shows zero (0), throw the device away.

General instructions

  • Take your inhaled medicine only as told by your health care provider. Do not use the inhaler more than directed by your health care provider.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • If you have any questions about how to use your DPI, talk with your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Where to find more information

American Lung Association: www.lung.org

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have a sore mouth.
  • You have a sore throat.
  • You have a persistent cough.
  • Your voice changes or gets hoarse.
  • You have side effects from the medicine.
  • You are having trouble using your DPI.

Get help right away if:

  • You have severe shortness of breath.
  • You have trouble breathing.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • A dry powder inhaler (DPI) is a handheld device that lets you breathe medicine into your lungs (inhale). The medicine used in a DPI is a very fine powder.
  • You may need a DPI as part of your long-term treatment to prevent or control breathing problems. Dry powder inhalers do not usually have medicines that take away sudden symptoms.
  • Take your inhaled medicine only as told by your health care provider. Do not use the inhaler more than directed by your health care provider.
  • If you have any questions about how to use your DPI, talk with your health care provider or pharmacist.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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