What is a dry powder inhaler (DPI)?

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). DPIs deliver medication to the lungs as you inhale through the device. The DPI doesn’t push the medication into your lungs. You have to breathe in strong and steady to get the medicine.

What is the Diskus® DPI?

The Diskus® (Figure 1) contains 60 doses of medication (brand names are Advair®, Flovent®, or Serevent®). It has a dose counter that automatically counts down the number of doses as you use them. Doses 5 through 0 are in red to alert you to refill your prescription.

When the counter reads “0”, there is no medicine left in the Diskus. Throw away the empty Diskus and begin using a new one.

How do I inhale my medication?

  1. To load a dose, hold the Diskus in your left hand. Place your right thumb in the thumb grip. Push your thumb as far away from you as it will go. This action opens the Diskus to expose the lever underneath.
  2. Hold the Diskus in a level, flat position. Slide the lever away from you until it clicks. This action loads the dose of medication. You will see the dose counter decrease by one.
  3. Turn your head away from the Diskus and breathe out as much air as you comfortably can.
  4. Place the Diskus mouthpiece in your mouth, breathe in strong and steady, but not too fast, and completely fill your lungs.
  5. Hold your breath for 10 seconds.
  6. Remove the Diskus from your mouth and exhale slowly. Wipe off the mouthpiece.
  7. Close the Diskus by placing your thumb in the thumb grip and sliding the grip back toward you as far as it will go. This action resets the inhaler so it is ready to use for the next dose.
  8. If more than one dose is prescribed, repeat the previous steps.
  9. If the Diskus contains a steroid, rinse your mouth and gargle (do not swallow), then spit.

How do I care for my Diskus?

  • Keep your Diskus in a dry place at room temperature.
  • Never place the Diskus in water.
  • Never shake or breathe into the Diskus.
  • Never use a spacer device/holding chamber with the Diskus.

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

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/21/2020.


  • American Association for Respiratory Care. Guide to Aerosol Delivery Devices (http://www.aarc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/aerosol_guide_rt.pdf) Accessed 4/20/2021.
  • American Thoracic Society. Using Your Metered Dose Inhaler. (https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/metered-dose-inhaler-mdi.pdf) Accessed 4/20/2021.
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Dry Powder Inhaler (http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/dry-powder-inhalers.aspx) Accessed 4/20/2021.
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Dry Powder Inhalers (http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=17&cont=167) Accessed 4/20/2021.

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