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What Happens if I Use My Inhaler Without Priming It?

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It's been several weeks since I used my rescue inhaler, and I accidentally used it without priming it first. Could that cause negative side effects?

Metered dose inhalers (MDI) contain medicine and propellant. This type of inhaler requires shaking and priming to make sure you get the right mixture of medicine and propellant when you use it.

It is possible that you did not get the full amount of medicine if you did not correctly prime your asthma inhaler.

Prime the inhaler by activating four sprays, separated by approximately five seconds. Shake the inhaler between each priming spray.

An asthma inhaler, such as an asthma rescue inhaler (e.g. Albuterol), should be primed if:

  • Prime a new inhaler before using it.
  • The inhaler was dropped or it has not been used for more than two weeks.
Asthma, Medicines
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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