How to Use an HFA Inhaler

  use inhaler

Children should use an inhaler with a SPACER. When an inhaler is used alone, medicine will end up in the mouth, throat, stomach and lungs.


Asthma > Asthma Attack

Asthma is a dynamic disease that reacts to a complex of triggering symptoms and/or conditions. Most people find that asthma attacks are the result of gradual worsening of symptoms over a few days. The exception is exercise-induced asthma that commonly has a quick onset that can be avoided with the administration of medicine 10-15 minutes before activity. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are about taking and/or giving asthma medicines and avoiding triggers, there may be an asthma attack.

Worsening Asthma Symptoms
If your asthma symptoms are getting worse do not ignore them! Follow your or your child's personal asthma action plan. If symptoms continue to get worse make an urgent appointment to see your doctor or asthma nurse. Quite often, using your reliever is all that is needed to relieve your asthma symptoms when you start to have an asthma attack. At other times, symptoms are more severe and more urgent action is needed.

Warning Signs

  • Quick-relief (rescue) medication does not help symptoms
  • Symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest)
  • Too breathless to be active, speak, eat or sleep.

About HFA Inhalers

In 2009 albulterol all CFC* inhalers were replaced by
environmentally-friendly HFA** inhalers that require priming.
* chlorofluorocarbon
** hydrofluoroalkane-based

Steps to Take for an Asthma Attack

  • Sit up, and ensure that any tight clothing is loosened. Do not lie down.
  • Give/take quick-relief medication (inhaler) immediately.
  • Take deep slow breaths. Stay calm.
  • Continue to give/take one puff of the inhaler as needed, every minute for 5-10 minutes or until symptoms improve.
  • If symptoms do not improve within 10 minutes, go for emergency care or call 911.

Do not be afraid of causing a fuss, even at night. If you or your child are admitted to hospital or an accident and emergency department because of your asthma, take details of your medicines with you.

After an Asthma Episode
Recording all asthma episodes in an asthma log will help individuals and families get asthma under control. Be sure to note the time, place and conditions of each episode; look for patterns that might suggest exposure to a trigger. Keep a record of the treatment given and its effectiveness.

Visit a doctor or asthma nurse for an asthma review within 48 hours of an attack. Bring all medications and the asthma log. Schedule a second review within one or two weeks after an asthma attack to make sure symptoms are better controlled. Do not ignore worsening symptoms.

Make an environmental assessment of the places where you or your child spends time. View the Walk-Around Video for help.




Medication with
an HFA Inhaler

inhaler use

1. Shake the canister.

2. Remove the cap.

3. Prime the canister by spraying into the air to release a puff of medication.

Repeat shaking and priming 3 or 4 times, as required.

Attach SPACER to inhaler.

4. Breathe out. Placespacer mouthpiece in the mouth between the teeth.

5. Close mouth. Press down once.

6. Breathe in and hold breath for 6-10 seconds, then breathe out. Check the time.

Repeat after five minutes, if required.

Spacers come in many sizes. Some whistle to alert that breath has been let out too quickly. Clean after each use according to the instructions on the package.