About My Inhaler

Young woman treating asthma with inhaler

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will decide which medicine is recommended for you and discuss with you which type of inhaler you
might like to try. Different types of inhaler devices are available and most inhaled medicines are available in more than one type of inhaler device. It is important to find one that you can use and are happy to use.

Inhaler devices can be grouped into those that are not aerosol based, such as dry powder inhalers (DPI), and those that are aerosol based, such as pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) and soft mist inhalers (SMI).

Inhaler type 

Inhaler examples

Not aerosol based such as dry powder inhalers (DPI)

Easyhaler Salbutamol, Fostair NEXThaler, Symbicort Turbohaler, Duaklir Genuair.

Aerosol based

Fostair, Salamol and Trimbow as pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) or QVAR Easibreathe inhaler.

Soft mist inhalers (SMI)

Spiriva Respimat and Spiolto Respimat.

Your preventer or maintenance inhaler should be used every day as prescribed to help reduce the inflammation or swelling in your airways, even when you feel well. This is important to manage your lung disease by helping you to cope better with day-to-day symptoms and reduce your risk of having asthma or COPD attacks.  You will also have a lower chance of being admitted to hospital with breathing problems.

Your reliever inhaler will work quickly to help open your airways to make it easier for you to breathe.  This can be used when you find it hard to breathe or you’re having an asthma or COPD attack. This type of inhaler is usually blue and should be kept with you all the time. If you have asthma and need to use your reliever inhaler 3 or more times a week, tell your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist so they can check you are on the right preventer or maintenance inhaler for you.

Some people with asthma may be using a single maintenance and reliever therapy (MART) inhaler. This type of inhaler contains both preventer and reliever medicines. Your MART inhaler should be used every day as prescribed and when you find it hard to breathe.  This type of inhaler should be kept with you all the time.

Using your inhaler correctly helps you to breathe the medicine straight into your lungs, where it’s needed to work. This is important to manage your lung disease by helping you to cope better with day-to-day symptoms and reduce your risk of having asthma or COPD attacks.

When you don’t use the right technique, medicine can stick to the back of your throat, tongue, or in your mouth, meaning it will not work as well, and may cause side-effects.

This may include a sore mouth or throat, a hoarse voice, or a cough. Some medicines, like salbutamol, can cause tremor, cramps and increased heart rate when your inhaler technique is not correct.

Even if you think your inhaler technique is good, there may still be room for improvement to get more of the medicine deep into your lungs so always check you have the best technique.

There are many different types of inhalers. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist should show you how to use your inhaler. We encourage you to ask them to check that you have a good technique, ideally by you showing them how you usually use your inhalers. This should be checked when you are first given a new inhaler, and repeated at least yearly.

Watch our short video on how to use your inhaler:

Watch our short video on the types of inhalers:

For more information about Asthma, including a selection of videos on how to use each type of inhaler, visit the Asthema and Lung UK website

Read our leaflet providing important information about inhaler medicine:

Inhaler Leaflet

Inhaler Poster

Inhaler Technique Poster