Using a metered-dose inhaler without a spacer

Shake inhaler and remove cap: Step 1

Person shaking inhaler, then removing cap from inhaler mouthpiece.
slide 1 of 6
slide 1 of 6, Shake inhaler and remove cap: Step 1,

Shake the inhaler as directed, and remove the cap. Check the inhaler instructions to see if you need to prime your inhaler before you use it. If it needs priming, follow the instructions for how to do it.

Hold inhaler upright: Step 2

Person holding inhaler upright, with mouthpiece on bottom facing mouth.
slide 2 of 6
slide 2 of 6, Hold inhaler upright: Step 2,

Hold the inhaler upright with the mouthpiece at the bottom.

Tilt head back and breathe out: Step 3

Person slightly tilting back head, then breathing out.
slide 3 of 6
slide 3 of 6, Tilt head back and breathe out: Step 3,

Stand or sit up straight. Tilt your head back slightly, and breathe out slowly and completely.

Position the inhaler: Step 4

Two positions shown for using inhaler, one in mouth with lips closed around mouthpiece, and one placed 1 to 2 inches from open mouth.
slide 4 of 6
slide 4 of 6, Position the inhaler: Step 4,

There are two ways to position the inhaler when using it without a spacer. You can place the inhaler in your mouth. Or you can hold the inhaler 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 2 in. (5.0 cm) in front of your open mouth, without closing your lips over it. This method may be better for getting the medicine into your lungs. But some people may find this too hard to do.

Start breathing in and press on the inhaler: Step 5

Person placing inhaler close to open mouth and pressing down on inhaler as they breathe in.
slide 5 of 6
slide 5 of 6, Start breathing in and press on the inhaler: Step 5,

Start to breathe in slowly, evenly, and deeply; press down on the inhaler one time (start to breathe in, then press); and continue to breathe in slowly.

Hold your breath: Step 6

Person holding breath while looking at watch.
slide 6 of 6
slide 6 of 6, Hold your breath: Step 6,

Hold your breath for 10 seconds. This will let the medicine settle in your lungs. Then breathe out slowly.

If you need to take a second dose, wait 30 to 60 seconds to allow the inhaler valve to refill.

Current as of: July 6, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine