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British Lung Foundation
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Breathing in and breathing out

Hello people,

I have a sneaking suspicion that I have not been using my inhalers properly.

I know I have a body of experts out there who can correct me if need be.

I don't hold my breath in when I take a puff.? Am I supposed to and for how long?

I am sure I am not getting the full benefit of the drug.



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16 Replies

I was told at rehab that you should hold in your breath for as long as you can hope this helps

It does decor because I was snatching a breath then letting it go as fast as I could.

Hello Hannah, I manage to hold it to a count of ten! :) x

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Hi, yes you do hannahmac, I was told to the count of ten. Sometimes I couldn't manage that long, but did my best! There are lots of YouTube videos on how to use your inhaler that could be useful for you to watch, much easier to see someone using one than reading instructions. Also, you can get a spacer to use with your reliever inhaler (i.e. ventolin or similar), which are very effective. I have an aerochamber - they don't cost much to buy and you can also get them on prescription if your gp will agree. You just breath normally when you use an aerochamber or spacer and apparently they are more effective than using an inhaler without one. Libby x

youtube.com/user/AsthmaUK (videos on how to use inhalers)

Hi there

I wasn't using mine properly either, I think it's fairly common that people get it wrong either from not knowing or from getting into bad habits.

The breathing in as deeply as possible then holding your breath is important according to the instruction video I watched for my new inhaler, Flutiform. That means the stuff reaches the places in the lungs that it needs to.

Then rinsing your mouth out with water afterwards is another thing I wasn't doing. That is also important I have now been told (by the BLF nurse I spoke to when I mentioned having mucous in my throat as a side effect of the spray).

Some people also use spacers. I had one years ago but stopped because I was touring a lot at the time and couldn't be bothered to take such a massive thing in my bags. Not sure if they are necessary, my lung doc didnt mention that on Monday.


Hi Koala, you can get small ones now and they are very effective. In this one you can even store your inhaler:-


The aerochamber is smaller but you can't store your inhaler in it.

Libby x

Doing P/R the course goes onto inhalers mt chemist shop and nurse are always on about getting how we use inhalers ask for a check on what your doing any doubt what the instructions say about using each one.

The technique is crucial to getting the most out of your medicine hannahmac, your local pharmacist can advise if you are in doubt. I think the instruction leaflet that comes with the medicine also explains. How to, can vary from one medicine to another.

For metred dose inhalers like ventolin here is a reasonable explanation from YouTube:

To add to that I usually pause for a couple of minutes before repeating the 2nd dose.

I usually leave 15-20 mins between the different meds but I know some people say their docs said they didn't need to. The pharmacist or respiratory nurse can probably advise you best about this.

If I need to take my ventolin because I am short of breath, i take one puff and then wait for up to ten minutes before the next puff. It gives the first one a chance to be effective and so make the second puff more effective with less loss.

If I am at home, I always use the spacer tube. It's a lot kinder on the mouth and I just breath in through my mouth 4 or 5 times before the second puff.

Have a word with the BLF nurse, I found that the GPs nurses have no idea. I told them I was having no effect so they gave me a big spacer. When that wasint working they never believed me! Then just a 10 min talk with Jan the BLF nurse sorted things, I now have a Able spacer as Libby posted (but try Amazon can be slightly cheaper), great for throwing in the bikebag or a coat pocket.

Just watched the videos and there is noway I can hold my breath for 10 seconds while I am out of breath and in panic mode.


i was told to count to 10 by the nurse

Hi hannahmac, If you find it difficult to get the technique right, you can try a spacer which does not require you to hold your breath.

Link to 2 videos below. 1. inhaler technique 2. spacer technique.


That is brilliant sir james. Now after three years I know what I should be doing



thanks BlakeyC (and others) for video demonstration unfortunately I still get it on my tongue and not in my lungs. I can do it with a spacer but this one is meant to be for when I am out and need it (fortunately at the moment not often) so cannot carry a spacer around. Luckily my other medications are the dry powder ones which are brilliant and I can use with ease.

There are very helpful films on YouTube showing the correct procedure. Google 'using an inhaler'.

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