Using the Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) Chamber

Respiratory patients using a metered dose inhaler (MDI) can improve the effectiveness and accuracy of medication placement into their airways and lungs by incorporating a metered dose chamber with their MDI. The MDI attaches directly to the MDI chamber, providing a space for the medication to remain suspended in the air a few seconds longer, improving the amount and dispersion of medication into the airways and lungs.

There are two different styles of MDI chambers. The standard chamber is usually a cylindrical device where the MDI attaches at one end and a mouthpiece is at the other. The second device is called a valved holding chamber.

How to use both the standard and valved holding chambers: 

  • Remove the cap from the MDI and chamber. Shake well. If this is the first time using the MDI, prime the canister by pushing down on the MDI and pointing into the air. A second prime may be necessary.
  • Insert the MDI into the open end of the chamber (opposite of the mouthpiece).
  • Place the mouthpiece of the chamber between your teeth and close your lips tightly.
  • Exhale all of your air out of your lungs.
  • Press down on the canister one time.
  • Breathe in slowly and completely through your mouth.
  • FOR VALVED HOLDINGCHAMBER ONLY — If you hear a horn-like sound, slow your breathing down as you are breathing too quickly.
  • Hold your breath for 10 seconds to allow the medication to be absorbed into the lungs and airways. If you cannot hold your breath for 10 seconds, hold as long as you can.
  • If ordered more than one puff by your doctor, wait at least one minute between puffs.
  • Replace the cap on the MDI when finished.
  • If you are using a corticosteroid medication, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to reduce your chances of getting thrush, a fungal yeast infection.

Caring for Your MDI and Chamber

  • Remove the canister and rinse the plastic holder under warm water at least once a week. This will prevent the smaller holes from clogging. Shake the holder of excess water and let air dry.
  • If your canister does not come out of the holder, wipe the mouthpiece with a clean cloth and the plastic holder with a clean damp cloth, using cotton swabs in tight areas.
  • Once a week, rinse out the chamber with warm water and mild dish washing detergent. Remove the rubber ring at the end of the chamber. Wash thoroughly and rinse shaking off any excess water. Let air dry and store in a clean place. Do not store the chamber in a plastic bag as the plastic will give the chamber static electricity, thus decreasing the effectiveness of the medication.


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