• Puffing Properly - pMDIA puffer has a plastic L-shaped outer case and a metal canister that fits inside it. The metal canister contains the medication and a propellant to push the medication out when you press down on the top of the metal canister. 

    Which medications come in a puffer?

    Airomir, Asmol, Atrovent, Ventolin (Relievers); Alvesco, Flixotide, Intal, Qvar, Tilade (Preventers); Seretide (Combination medication)

    Puffers are the only type of inhaler that can be used with a spacer. If you are not using a spacer, you’ll need good coordination to be able to press on the canister and breathe in at the same time. Using a spacer will get the medication into your lungs more effectively, and help to reduce side effects of the medication.

    How to use a puffer on its own
    • Remove the cap and hold the inhaler upright
    • Shake the inhaler
    • Tilt your chin up slightly and breathe out gently
    • Holding the inhaler upright, insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and create a seal with your lips
    • Start to breathe in through your mouth, then fire one puff of medication and continue to breathe in steadily and deeply 
    • Remove puffer from mouth and hold your breath for 10 seconds
    • Breathe out, and replace puffer cover

    To take more medication, repeat these steps

    You should get your inhaler technique checked regularly by your doctor, pharmacist or asthma educator. To watch further demonstrations of correct technique for other devices go to our videos page

    How to use a puffer video

  • How to use a puffer with a spacer video

  • How to use a puffer with a spacer with a mask video

  • To read more about spacers visit our spacers page.

    How can I tell if my puffer is empty?

    The most accurate way is to count every single puff you use. On every puffer there is a sticker that tells you how many doses (sometimes called “actuations”) there are inside.

    If it is a medication that you take regularly (e.g. your preventer), then you will be able to work out when it will run out. Just divide the number of puffs (‘doses’) in the puffer by the number of puffs you take each day. So if you take two puffs every morning and night, then a 120 dose puffer will last you 30 days. Make sure you have a spare puffer ready at least a week or two before yours runs out. This technique is a bit harder with a reliever puffer, because you don’t use it regularly. 

    When you shake the puffer, you should be able to feel or perhaps hear the medication inside. If you are not sure, spray a puff of medication into the air. You will be able to see the spray coming out of the puffer, and you can hear the whooshing noise. If there’s no spray or noise, the puffer is probably empty.

    The best solution is to always have a spare puffer, just in case.


    Do I need to clean my puffer? 

    Puffers need to be cleaned regularly so that the hole at bottom where the medication comes out doesn’t get blocked, otherwise you won’t get the full dose of medication. You should clean your puffer every week, unless you are using Intal Forte or Tilade, which are sticky and block the puffer easily, so they must be cleaned every day. They usually come with a spare plastic case so you can use one while cleaning and drying the other. 

    Washing your puffer 
    • Remove the metal canister. (Do not place in water.)
    • Remove the mouthpiece cap. Rinse the plastic casing and mouthpiece cap under warm running water for at least 30 seconds
    • Shake off the excess water and allow to air dry
    • Put it back together. You might need to spray one puff into the air to make sure all the water is out of the casing
    • If you need your inhaler before it is dry, shake off the excess water, put it together and spray 2 puffs as a test.

    IMPORTANT: The exceptions to this are puffers containing inhaled steroid medications (Alvesco, Flixotide, Qvar, Seretide) which should never be washed – they should be wiped with a dry tissue. 

    Puffer tips
    • Never stick a pin in the hole of the puffer to clean it out – this is likely to damage the inhaler. If you think the hole is blocked and you can’t clear it with the normal washing instructions above, you’ll need to get a new puffer
    • If your inhaler is new, or if you haven’t used it for a week or more, spray a puff into the air before using it. This will ensure your inhaler will work properly
    • Try to avoid your inhaler getting too hot or too cold. If your inhaler is very cold, it may not work properly. Remove the metal canister and warm it in your hands for a few minutes before you use it. To avoid it getting too hot, don’t leave it in your car on a hot day and try to store it in the shade wherever possible when temperatures are high and you are outdoors. Don’t put it in the fridge or esky, as it shouldn’t be in wet conditions either


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