Diskus Dry Powder

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). 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.

What is the Diskus® dry powder inhaler?

The Diskus® (figure 1) contains 60 doses of medication (Advair®, Flovent®, or Serevent® are the brand names of the medication that may be prescribed for you). It has a dose indicator that 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 "0" appears in the dose indicator, throw away the Diskus and begin a new one.

How do I prepare the Diskus?

  1. Hold the Diskus in your left hand. Place the thumb of your right hand 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. 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.

Inhaling the medication

Once you have your DPI loaded, follow these steps to inhale the medication:

  1. Turn your head away from the diskus and breathe out as much air as you comfortably can.
  2. Place the Diskus mouthpiece in your mouth and breathe in strong and steady but not too fast, and fill your lungs completely.
  3. Hold your breath for up to 10 seconds.
  4. Remove the Diskus from your mouth and exhale slowly.
  5. 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 treatment.
  6. If more than one dose is prescribed, repeat steps 1 through 7 for each dose.

How do I care for my 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.
  • When taking dry powder inhalers, you may not taste, smell, or feel the dry powder. 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.
  • If you are using a corticosteroid medication, rinse your mouth and gargle after using the DPI. Do not swallow.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/11/2014.


  • American Association for Respiratory Care. Guide to Aerosol Delivery Devices Accessed 1/5/2015.
  • American Thoracic Society. What are dry-powdered inhalers (DPIS)? Accessed 1/5/2015.
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Dry Powder Inhaler Accessed 1/5/2015.
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Dry Powder Inhalers Accessed 1/5/2015.

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