How To Use A Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI)

Dry powder inhalers do not require the hand-breath coordination of a pressurized MDI. They are breath-actuated, meaning the medicine is released to your airways when you take a deep, fast breath from the inhaler. DPIs typically require a quick, forceful inhalation; this may make a DPI more or less difficult to use during an asthma flare.

Medication particles in dry powder inhalers (DPIs) are powdered, not wet like an MDI, and are so small that they can reach the tiniest airways. You may not taste or feel the particles. They do not contain chemical propellants and people with milk allergy should be aware they contain traces of lactose. 

Some asthma medications are available in both DPI and MDI form, and some patients include both in their treatment plan. Talk with your doctor about exactly what medication and device is best for you. 

                    Find videos of how to use different DPIs here.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Use

1. Follow your device instructions to load the medication dose. Multi-dose inhalers are preloaded with medication, which you typically prepare with a click of the device. Single-dose inhalers use separately packaged capsules that you drop into the chamber.

2. Stand or sit up straight and breathe out completely. Emptying your lungs is one of the most important steps.

3. Put the mouthpiece into your mouth, close your lips tightly around it and breathe in quickly and forcefully.

Quick DPI Tips:

  • Do not open the device until you are ready to use it.
  • Never open or swallow the capsule – always use it with its matching DPI.
  • Do not shake the DPI.
  • Do not use a holding chamber or spacer with a DPI.
  • Rinse your mouth after using, if instructed by your healthcare team.
  • If inhaling the dry powder causes you to cough, talk with your doctor.

4. Take the DPI out of your mouth, hold your breath for 5-10 seconds, then exhale slowly.

5. If your treatment plan calls for a second dose, reload and repeat the steps.

6. When using a capsule device, open the chamber and check to see if the powder has been fully inhaled. If you see remaining powder, close the device, exhale fully, close your mouth around the mouthpiece and inhale again. When the capsule is empty, remove and discard it.

7. Close the device and store in a dry place. Do not wash with water; use only a dry cloth to wipe the mouthpiece.