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British Lung Foundation
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How should I inhale my Salbutamol? Does how I inhale it make a difference?

I visited my surgery last week and saw one of the nurses - the appointment was to have a spirometry test.

Because of a course of antibiotics I had had I was told that I would have to wait 4-6 weeks after the end of the course of antibiotics before having the test.

Anyway, she chatted to me and asked me how I got on with my inhaler and asked me to show her how I used it which I did.

Apparently, I inhale it too quickly. Heather (the nurse) asked me to use it again and this time to inhale it slowly which is the best way to do it.

When I need my inhaler I find it really difficult to inhale slowly. I usually wait until I really need it before using it; consequently I breath it in as quickly as possible - I just want to get my breath back and breathing it in quickly is just automatic with me.

How on earth am I going to learn that the best way is 'slowly'!!!!!

When I get really breathless, I panic and in my panic I'm desperate to feel better asap hence I inhale quickly.


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21 Replies

Are you talking about a preventer, Ventolin or similar? If so, you could try inhaling when you know you will be exerting yourself, before you do, so it can work to keep you less breathless through the activity.

your message was not there when i tried to type mine you worded much clearer than me but that is what i meant :) lol


Always push yourself to full excersion till u feel u cant breathe then sit and inhale it works x

Hi Annec

I never knew about doing it slowly, I also do it quick so as to try not get it stuck to my tongue. But when I went pulmonary assessment yesterday, they said I should use it before my regular seretide accuhaler , so as to get the most of it. They also said I should use it before any activity that makes me breathless, rather than just waiting for breathlessness to strike, so if hanging washing out makes me breathless use it first. Although I must stress they just said that to me and I have no idea if that is the same for everyone.


Annec you could ask your GP for a spacer. You put the inhaler in the spacer and seal the other end with your lips. After pressing the inhaler you can breath at a pretty normal pace. In fact you will get much more of the drug in any event, so unless you are out and about (in which case it's a bit cumbrsome) you may be better off using it anyway. GPs usualy precribe the aero spacer plus as illustrated in the link.


Good luck hun

Love cx

Sorry cofdrop, it's done it again, no reply re a spacer when I started typing!! Oh, well two's better than none! Libby

No probs hun


Hi Annec, the answer may be to get an aerochamber (you can get one on prescription), and I think there is an even smaller one you can get now. I find the aerochamber invaluable when I am too breathless to use the inhaler on its own. Here's a link so you can see what they're like, I have the third one down and was given it on prescription.



New to me to! I,ve always inhaled mine fast and as deeply as possible then hold my breath and count to ten, that's if i don't pas out first :) hang on a tic,

just tried the slow-mo Uuurghnit don't like that at all, al most as bad as a mouthful of gaviscon. :(

OMG! You are all so knowledgeable (should there be an 'e' in that word) about things.

The inhaler I have is the only one given to me. Being an absolute coward, I do take a couple of puffs before doing anything strenuous.

Psorias - I never hang my washing out. I use my tumbler dryer. I have to admit that I don't remember the last time I was in my garden - probably last year.

I will use my inhaler before doing anything strenuous but I am so afraid of using it too much. Can it be used too much? The on my inhaler says 'Two puffs four times a day or when reaquired'.

I have had pneumonia, DVTs, PEs and have been through labour an birth but they all pale into insignificance when compared to trying to 'catch' my breath.

What happens if I use my inhaler more times than is recommended? Will I turn into a pumpkin?


Might be an idea to see gp - he may want to give you a more longer acting inhaler along with your Salbutamol, although I recall you have not yet been diagnosed - best to see them.

Love cx

Think the nurse meant,, a long deep as normal breath as you can manage,,remembering to empty your lungs first....NO you wont turn into a pumkin,,,,just a wee blueberry.. :)

There are different techniques to use different inhalers.

Most patients are not shown how to use an inhaler properly and of course it depends on how breathless you are. Recently, i was so breathless i could not get any relief from my reliever inhaler and had to use a spa cer.

It is very important that you breathe in slowly and deeply when using a pressurised metered dose inhaler. A 5 second breathold is good if you can, however easier said than done.

Can i suggest you practice breathing in slowly to a count, trying to make it last 3-5 seconds.

If you have dry pow der inhalers, or soft mist inhalers (spiriva respimat) i can provide advice too?

Hiya - I've been using ventolin and other mdi's for over 40yrs. I've always been told not to wait until I'm too breathless before using ventolin, so don't wait til you're struggling, use it before you feel too tight/wheezy. Then you'll be able to breathe it in a little more slowly & deeply, and more will get deep into your airway. Don't worry about over-using it, in the old days I used use it 12-15 times a day, for long periods, and come to no harm except an increased heartbeat. But if you find you're regularly using it more than 4 times a day (2 puffs per time) then it's a sign that you need more help with your breathing.

love, ff x

Hi thats what i was doing nurse showed me correct way no wonder i wasn't getting benefit much easier with a spacer breathe in slow and deep if spacer whistles you did it to fast and you dont get the dose ! With other inhalers opposite like symbicort etc fast deep inhale it is hard when ur panicking to breathe i know that x

Ah thanks, that's interesting. I've used a small spacer and it always whistled with my Seritide.... Cons changed the inhaler to the powder capsule one of a lower dose (250mcg 1 puff 2xdaily). It seems to be working the same so you're so right, taking it properly is very important xx P

I use Ventolin and and take it about 20 minutes before going out and before doing any tasks which make me breathless eg changing the bedding. Much easier to do when not breathless. I was also taught to tilt my head back when using it and keeping it going for as long as possible. Sure you will get used to it. I was silly enough to use my first inhaler without taking off the cap and only got the medication that leakedfrom the sides.


So first breathe out then shake the inhaler then inhale it it usually takes a few minuets to work

ask your deoctor for a spacer tube

Empty lungs then inhale fast

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