Using an inhaler is an effective way to get medication directly into the lungs to treat or prevent asthma attacks or COPD flare-ups. However, there are some things you should avoid doing right after using your inhaler for maximum effectiveness. Here are some key things not to do after using an inhaler.
Do Not Breathe Out Through Your Inhaler
After inhaling your medication through your inhaler, it’s crucial not to breathe out through the inhaler. Breathing out through the inhaler will blow some of the medication out, reducing the dose you get. Instead, hold your breath for 10 seconds to allow the medication time to deposit in your lungs before breathing out normally away from the inhaler.
Do Not Get Distracted Between Puffs
If your doctor has prescribed more than one puff of your inhaler, wait 1 minute between puffs. Getting distracted and waiting too long between puffs may lead to improperly spaced medication delivery. Set a timer for 1 minute between each puff to ensure proper timing.
Do Not Rinse Your Mouth After Using a Steroid Inhaler
After using a steroid inhaler, avoid rinsing food substances out of your mouth for 30 minutes. Rinsing too soon can wash away some of the medication and reduce effectiveness. Steroid inhalers treat inflammation, so the medication particles depositing in your mouth is beneficial.
Do Not Eat or Drink Right After Using Your Inhaler
Wait at least 5 minutes after using your inhaler before eating or drinking. Consuming food and drink too soon can remove some medication particles and make your inhaler less effective. Set a 5-minute timer after inhaling to ensure you don’t eat or drink too soon.
Do Not Use Your Inhaler Too Often
Using your inhaler too frequently can be just as dangerous as not using it enough. Only use your inhaler as prescribed by your doctor. Using it too often can lead to side effects, dependence, and reduced effectiveness when you really need it.
Do Not Share Your Inhaler with Others
Even if someone else is having an asthma attack or COPD flare-up, do not share your inhaler with them. Each inhaler is calibrated for an individual’s treatment plan. Sharing inhalers also risks spreading infections like colds and the flu through saliva residue on the inhaler.
Do Not Use an Expired Inhaler
Check the expiration date on your inhaler regularly. Using an expired inhaler may not deliver the full drug dose needed. Make sure to replace your inhaler by the expiration date to maintain proper medication delivery.
Do Not Use a Damaged Inhaler
Inspect your inhaler regularly for any damage, especially after dropping it. Using a damaged inhaler can alter medication delivery. If your inhaler sustains any damage, replace it as soon as possible.
Do Not Stop Medication Without Your Doctor’s Guidance
Even if you start feeling better, do not stop using your inhaler without first consulting your doctor. Stopping inhaler treatment suddenly can cause your symptoms to return or worsen. Always talk to your doctor before making changes to your treatment plan.
Do Not Use Someone Else’s Inhaler
Never use an inhaler prescribed for someone else, even if you have the same condition. The medication type and dosage in inhalers is tailored to individuals. Using the wrong inhaler can be dangerous and make your condition worse.
Do Not Use Your Inhaler Too Forcefully
Using your inhaler too aggressively or at too high a velocity can actually impede medication delivery. Press the inhaler canister gently and steadily. This will release the correct amount of medication at the ideal speed.
Do Not Place Cotton in the Mouthpiece
Some people think placing cotton or fabric in the mouthpiece will filter out medication particles. However, this can hold particles back rather than allowing their full passage into the lungs. Always use your inhaler without any cotton or material in the mouthpiece.
Do Not Use if You Have Not Taken a Dose Within the Last Month
If it has been more than 1 month since your last inhaler dose, you may need to prime it again before use by test spraying 2 times. Failing to prime an inhaler that has been unused for a long time could mean an inadequate first dose.
Do Not Leave Your Inhaler in Your Car
Storing your inhaler in a hot or cold vehicle can damage medication particles and reduce effectiveness. Always keep your inhaler at room temperature by storing it safely indoors.
Do Not Use Your Inhaler with a Blocked Nose
Using your inhaler while your nose is obstructed, like when you have a cold or flu, will reduce medication delivery. The particles cannot pass through effectively. Wait until nasal congestion clears before using your inhaler.
Do Not Run Out of Refills
Make sure to monitor your remaining doses and request refills in advance, at least 7-10 days before running out. Running completely out of medication can cause a dangerous lag or gap in treatment.
Do Not Use Past the Dose Amount Prescribed
Never use your inhaler for more puffs per day than your doctor has prescribed, even if you feel symptoms returning sooner. Using quick-relief inhalers too often can be dangerous. Follow instructions carefully.
Do Not Use Your Inhaler Without Proper Instruction
Before using a new inhaler, always receive thorough instruction from your doctor or pharmacist on proper technique. Using inhalers incorrectly is common and can severely impact effectiveness and safety.
Do Not Assume All Inhalers Are the Same
There are many different types of inhalers, that require unique techniques. Never make assumptions about how to use an inhaler you are unfamiliar with. Always get trained on proper use when getting a new prescription.
Do Not Stop Taking Any Oral Medications Unless Instructed
Some respiratory conditions use both inhalers and oral medications together. Never stop taking prescribed oral mediations unless specifically directed by your doctor, even after starting inhaler treatment.
Do Not Attempt to Make Your Own Spacers or Masks
Trying to DIY your own spacer or mask to use with an inhaler can severely impact proper dose delivery. Only use manufacturer approved accessories designed specifically for your inhaler.
Do Not Leave Your Inhaler Unattended Around Children
Always store your inhaler safely away from small children. Accidental misuse of inhaled medications by kids can be very dangerous. Keep it in a locked cabinet when not in use.
Do Not Assume Herbal Remedies Can Replace Inhalers
Some people think herbal supplements and home remedies can substitute for prescribed inhalers. Never attempt to use unproven herbal treatments in place of doctor-prescribed inhaler medication.
Mistakes in how you use your inhaler can significantly impact its effectiveness and safety. By avoiding these common things NOT to do after inhaling, you can maximize your inhaler’s benefits:
- Don’t breathe out into the inhaler
- Don’t get distracted between puffs
- Don’t rinse your mouth after a steroid inhaler
- Don’t eat or drink right after using it
- Don’t overuse your inhaler
- Don’t share your inhaler with others
- Don’t use an expired or damaged inhaler
- Don’t stop medication without your doctor’s guidance
- Don’t use someone else’s inhaler
- Don’t use your inhaler too forcefully
- Don’t place cotton in the mouthpiece
- Don’t use if you haven’t taken a dose in over a month
- Don’t leave your inhaler in your car
- Don’t use with a blocked nose
- Don’t run out of refills
- Don’t use more than the prescribed dose
- Don’t use without proper instruction
- Don’t assume all inhalers work the same
- Don’t stop taking oral medications unless instructed
- Don’t make your own accessories
- Don’t leave it unattended around kids
- Don’t replace it with herbal remedies
Being mindful of these mistakes to avoid will help ensure you use your inhaler safely and effectively for maximum asthma or COPD control.
Frequently Asked Questions
How soon after using my inhaler can I eat or drink?
Wait at least 5 minutes after inhaling your medication before consuming any food or drinks. Eating or drinking too soon can remove some medication particles and reduce effectiveness.
Can I take extra puffs if I feel my symptoms returning?
No, never take more puffs than prescribed without consulting your doctor first. Taking extra doses of quick-relief inhalers can be dangerous.
Why shouldn’t I share my inhaler with a friend or family member?
Each inhaler is designed and calibrated for an individual’s specific medication routine. Using someone else’s inhaler can be ineffective and transfer germs through saliva residue.
Can I stop using my inhaler if my symptoms go away?
No, do not stop using controller or maintenance inhalers even if symptoms disappear without medical guidance. This can cause symptoms to recur or worsen.
How often should I get my inhaler technique reviewed by my doctor?
Get your inhaler technique reviewed at every doctor’s visit to ensure you continue using it correctly. Improper inhaler use is common and can impact effectiveness.
How do I avoid running out of my inhaler medication?
Monitor your remaining doses and call your doctor 7-10 days before you expect to run out to request a refill. Running completely out can cause dangerous gaps in treatment.
If my inhaler feels empty, can I get any remaining doses out?
No, once an inhaler stops spraying consistently you must replace it. Trying to get remaining medication out can provide inadequate, unsafe dosing.
Can children use adult inhalers safely in an emergency?
No, children should never use an inhaler designed for adults even in emergencies. Adult inhalers have higher medication doses that can be dangerous for kids.
Why shouldn’t I leave my inhaler in the bathroom or kitchen?
The high humidity of bathrooms and kitchens can damage medication particles in inhalers over time. Always store inhalers in temperate, dry locations.
How often should I clean my inhaler?
Clean your inhaler weekly by wiping it down with a clean, dry cotton cloth to prevent residue buildup affecting medication delivery.
Can essential oils help treat asthma or COPD?
No, there is no evidence essential oils can replace doctor-prescribed inhalers for respiratory conditions. Never attempt to substitute essential oils for inhaler medications.
- Wait 5 minutes after using your inhaler before eating or drinking to allow full medication absorption.
- Carefully follow prescribing instructions for timing and number of puffs.
- Do not stop treatment without your doctor’s approval even if you feel better.
- Always receive thorough instruction before using a new type of inhaler.
- Check expiration dates regularly and refill prescriptions 7-10 days before running out.
Being mindful of proper inhaler use and avoiding common mistakes can help you safely manage asthma, COPD, or other respiratory conditions for improved wellness and breathing.