Hints and tips on inhalers, how often... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation
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Hints and tips on inhalers, how often do you change yours and how many do you use?


My father in law has 4. 3 are the same size and one is slightly smaller. We have been advised that all should be changed once a month. But given that on is smaller this is changed every 3 weeks and one of the others is used twice as much so gets changed fortnightly!

Easy eh?

If you are 83, father in law is, you get easily lost. I have a spreadsheet with change dates on it and let him manage his inhalers. But every time a change date arrives he swears blind he doesn't need to change them or doesn't think they are empty/low.

He believes that if there is something coming out the end of the inhaler he can keep using it. I believe that there is a lot of propellant as well as drug in an inhaler?

But he does have a flare up if they are not changed!! He fails to see the connection as usual!!

So how often do you change your inhalers? and how many do you use?

I seem to be moaning a lot don't I, sorry for that!!



19 Replies

Depends on what inhaler he has and how frequently he uses it. I use 2 - a bronchodilator which has a window with a red marker on when it is getting low. The other is a steroid Alvesco - this one is a pain as although it is a fairly recent one there is no indication on it. It has 160 actuations so I put the date on the box and on the propellant.

You wouldn't like to do me a spread sheet would you - very handy!!!


Yes I can do a spreadsheet for you

Your're too kind sir. cx

email me details of your inhalers and dosage and I will see what I can do for you!!

Awe bless you but I was only joking (I know wierd sense of humour)!!!!

It shines through you are such a kind gentleman and I would say your father in law is very lucky indeed to have such a caring son in law as you.

Thank you anyway Simon - it was a very kind gesture and appreciated.

love cx

HiddenThis reply has been deleted
in reply to Hidden

The advice was given because he cant tell the difference between an empty inhaler and a full inhaler. He has been using them for 3 years and cant tell the difference.

in reply to Hidden

take your canister out of it`s plastic holder ,put it in a bowl of water ,when it floats horizontal it`s empty.

hmmm. Some inhalers you can pull out the aerosol part and give it a shake, if there's some still left in then you can make sure you put it back properly. This is what I have to do with my Ventolin as there is no gauge which is annoyin.

Luckily for me I take Seretide in the powder form. It's circular and has 60 capsules inside so lasts only a month at two puffs a day.

You're right though, many different inhalers in different forms. This is where the PR course is useful as you get tuition in taking the different ones. Also it's pretty vital to take it properly - there are different ways to take them too. (to top it all you can also use a spacer for the aerosol type)! I discovered at my PR that I'd been taking one important one wrongly for 3 years, no wonder I got worse in this time. GRRR


mmm Simon, each inhaler is marked approx. actuations, doses. You can work this out, based on the prescribed dose.

Each persons prescription may be different even when they take the same inhaler meds, the dose may not be the same. Each person is advised to take their medicines as prescribed by their own doctor, consultant or respiratory nurse.

When we use our medicines regularly as prescribed, we know when the medicine has run out or is getting low by the weight, sound (if hearing is good you can hear when you shake) and lastly if you do a test spray after shaking and spray a puff into the air you can easily tell if the medicine is empty or not delivering a full dose.

Say on average an inhaler will last approx 30 days, the patients will usually get a repeat prescription once a month.

Each inhaler comes with an information leaflet, worth a read if you are unsure of anything. Each inhaler is different and comes with a different prescribed dose.

As an example using Ventolin Evohaler 100 micrograms salbutamol sulphate:

The box is marked 200 metered actuations (or 200 puffs). My dose is two puffs when required, so if I only use 2 inhaled puffs a day for 7 days that equals 14 puffs a week used, which means I still have 186 puffs / actuations left.

Other medicines are marked similarly so you can work out approximately how long the inhaler medicines will last.

The calculations on metered dose would be inaccurate if your FIL is not taking the medicine as prescribed for whatever reason, then you could use the weight, sound and test puff as a guide.

Hi Simon

I have three inhalers. Sereteide, Spiriva and Ventolin. The Ventolin is the most annoying, because since, they changed the propellant, it is also much quieter, and blocks very easily. I got so fed up I decided to WEIGH the canister. Remove it from the inhaler, and weigh on its own. Obviously it has to be a brand NEW one. This gives you a base number and it is then easy to check roughly how much, if any is left. Hope this helps.

Val XX

Just press it if the spray come out theres still some in there!

in reply to hopetorun

I was told that near the end there is more propellant than drug?


I'm on Symbicort 400/12,Ventolin and Spiriva.Symbicort and Spiriva are simple as one has a counter and the other capsules.The Ventolin I shake to give me a rough idea of how much is left.

Hi i use ventolin as and when I need it and also have fostair which I use four puffs twice a day along with spireva and symbicort., as I say it can be difficult to judge the amount left by shaking it. comparing the weight is also difficult I If I am not sure or I believe it is coming to an end I just press it to check that it is still coming out if it sounds ok and the amount looks as normal then I use it. If I think it is just about out then I will change it. this I would imagine would become more difficult to judge with failing eyesight poor hearing and arthritis as we get older. so opting for the definite change at a certain day will guarantee that the medication is always working at optimum if not a little wasteful.

sorry if I am not being much help! good luck

In my mother in laws care home, they receive her repeat prescription drugs from the pharmacy directly each month. The pharmacy provide her new inhalers and the care home staff remove the old ones regardless of whether they are empty or not. Keep it simple. Thats what I say!


That sound so complicated for you and your father in law. I wonder if the blf helpline have some advise which might simplify things. Good luck TAD x x ps your father in law is very lucky to have you!

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