1. Health

Using Inhalers Properly: The Key to COPD Treatment

How to Use Inhalers -- MDI, Nebulizer, Advair, Flovent, Serevent, Spiriva


Updated March 01, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Inhalers are an integral part of COPD treatment. Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence to support that many people with COPD misuse their inhalers, making COPD treatment ineffective. Whether you use a metered-dose inhaler (MDI,) a nebulizer, a Diskus or the Spiriva Handihaler, learning how to use your inhaler properly will make a big difference in how you feel and how well you are able to function in your daily life.

To follow are some handy tips for using some of the most common COPD inhalers:

1. How to Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler

How to Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) is used to treat asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions. It is important to use an MDI correctly to get the full dose and benefit of the medicine, enabling it to travel deep within your lungs to open up your airways more effectively. An MDI should be used with a spacer for maximum benefit.

How to Use a Spacer With Your MDI

2. How to Use a Nebulizer

How to Use a Nebulizer
Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com

A nebulizer is a device that produces a fine spray or mist and is often used for breathing treatments in people with COPD. While many people believe that a nebulizer works better than an MDI to deliver COPD medication, studies have shown that they are equally effective.

3. How to Use a Spiriva Handihaler

How to Use a Spiriva Handihaler
Photo courtesy of Daniel Moore

Spiriva, also known as tiotropium, is a once-daily, long-acting bronchodilator medication that opens up the airways making it easier to breathe. The most important part of using a Spiriva Handihaler, however, is using it correctly.

4. How to Use an Advair, Flovent or Serevent Diskus

How to Use a Diskus
Photo c Jim Donlon

Advair, Flovent and Serevent each come in a device known as a Diskus. The Diskus is round and contains a mouthpiece. It is not meant to be used with a spacer.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. COPD
  4. COPD 101
  5. Using Your Inhaler
  6. Inhalers - How to Use Inhalers

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.