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 Flexhaler® DPI?

The Flexhaler® (brand name is Pulmicort®) contains either 60 or 120 doses of medication. (See figure.) 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. The dose indicator will not move with each individual dose, but you will 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.

How do I prepare my Flexhaler DPI?

When you obtain a new Flexhaler, you must prime it before you can use it:

  1. Hold the Flexhaler upright (brown grip at bottom).
  2. Twist and remove the cover.
  3. Holding it in the middle, twist the brown grip on the bottom in one direction until it stops and then fully back again. You will hear a click. It does not matter which direction you twist first.
  4. Repeat a second time.

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.)

How do I inhale my 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 forcefully and as deeply as you can to fill your lungs.
  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.

How do I care for my Flexhaler 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 or feel the medication, or there may be a slightly 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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