New Inhaler Users: Are You Making These Common Mistakes?

If you've recently been prescribed an inhaler for asthma or another condition, then you may still be getting used to using it. The sensation of breathing in an aerosol medication can be a bit strange at first, as can properly positioning the inhaler in your mouth. It's normal to take time to adapt, but whether you're been using your inhaler for three days or thirty years, you must make sure you're avoiding these common mistakes.

Forgetting to rinse your mouth out.

If you read your inhaler instructions, it probably tells you to rinse your mouth out after use. This is not just to get the nasty taste out of your mouth; it's to protect your teeth and gums. The medications are not meant to sit in contact with your gum tissues for long, and they can cause gum disease and tooth decay over time. So, always reach for a glass of water and rinse well after using your inhaler. If you often use your inhaler while on the go, get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you.

Exhaling too quickly after inhaling the medication.

The sensation of the medication going into the airways can feel a bit strange and may cause new inhaler users to exhale too soon after inhaling the medication. When you do this, you're breathing out the medication before it really has time to work fully. Get into the habit of inhaling, counting to 10, and then exhaling. Depending on the medication you're taking, the dosage instructions may even tell you to wait longer -- perhaps 15 or 20 seconds -- before exhaling.

Positioning the inhaler too far forward in your mouth.

You need to position the inhaler so that the portion from which the medication is emitted sits on the middle of your tongue, behind your teeth. If you place the inhaler too far forward (in front of your teeth or just behind them), you're just going to deposit the medication in your mouth rather than into your airways -- and it won't do much good in your mouth.

Slouching forward while inhaling.

To ensure the medication goes straight into your airway, you need to sit up straight when using your inhaler. If you slouch forward or try to use the inhaler while you're laying down, the medication may end up deposited on the back of your tongue or may get trapped partway down your airway without flowing all of the way to your lungs.