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How to Use Your Flexhaler Dry Powder Inhaler

Some asthma medications can be taken in the form of a dry powder using a small, hand-held device called a dry powder inhaler (DPI). Dry powder inhalers deliver medication to the lungs as you inhale through the device. The DPI does not contain propellants or any other ingredients. It contains only the medication.

The Flexhaler (brand name is Pulmicort®) contains either 60 doses or 120 doses of medication. (See figure to right.) It has a dose indicator window below the mouthpiece which is marked in intervals of "10" which includes alternating numbers and dashes. The dose indicator should be read at the middle of the window. You will not see the dose indicator move with each individual dose, but may notice it move ahead about every 5 doses. When the number "0" has reached the middle of the window the inhaler is empty and should be thrown away. You will start a new Flexhaler at this time.

Preparing the Flexhaler

When you obtain a new Flexhaler, you must prime it before you can use it. Hold the Flexhaler upright (brown grip at bottom). Twist and remove the cover. Holding it in the middle, twist the brown grip on the bottom in one direction until it stops and then fully back again. It does not matter which direction you twist first. Repeat a second time. You will hear a "click" during one of the twisting movements. Your new Flexhaler is now primed and ready to be loaded with a dose. (Remember, you only need to prime the Flexhaler the first time you use one.)

Inhaling the medication

  1. To load a dose, hold the Flexhaler with mouthpiece up to ensure proper loading of the medication. Twist the brown grip fully in one direction as far as it will go and then fully back again. You will hear a click. The Flexhaler is now loaded with a dose.
  2. Turn your head away from the inhaler and breathe out as much air as you comfortably can.
  3. Place the device in your mouth and breathe in as forcefully and deeply as you can.
  4. Hold your breath for 10 seconds.
  5. Take the DPI away from your mouth and exhale slowly.
  6. If more than one dose is prescribed, repeat steps 1 through 5 for each dose.
  7. When your treatment is complete, replace the white cover and twist it completely to close.

Caring for your DPI

  • Keep your dry powder inhaler in a dry place at room temperature.
  • Never place the DPI in water.
  • Never shake or breathe into the DPI.
  • Never use a spacer device with your DPI.

Unlike other inhaled medications, you may not taste or feel the dry powder or there may be a slight sweet taste. This experience may be different from what you are used to. As long as you are following the directions, you will get your full dose of medication.

Since this is an inhaled corticosteroid medicine, rinse your mouth and gargle after using the DPI. Do not swallow.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/7/2010…#9444


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