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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Asthma > Treatment > Medication > HFA Inhalers > HFA Compared to CFC Inhalers | Asthma Treatment | ACAAI

How Are HFA Inhalers Different from CFC Inhalers?

While the medicine is the same and works just as well, the chemical that pushes the medicine out of the inhaler and into your lungs is different. There are also some other differences:

  • How the medicine feels – The biggest change is that the spray from the new inhalers feels warmer and gentler. Because the spray feels much softer, you may think you need a bigger dose of medicine. You don’t.  Remember, it’s not the "force" of the inhaler that opens your airways, it’s the medicine that reaches your lungs.
  • How you inhale – You breathe in the medicine slowly (more slowly than you did with your old inhaler) and hold your breath for about 10 seconds to help the medicine work.
  • How it smells and tastes – HFA inhalers spray smaller particles of medicine that are easier to inhale. Because the mist is finer, it may not smell or taste the same as your old inhaler.
  • When to clean it – The small, fine particles of the HFA inhaler mist are stickier than those from CFC inhalers. This means you need to wash the small hole where the medicine comes out every week and let it air dry. If it doesn’t seem to be working correctly – and you still have medication left in the container – try washing the case that holds the inhaler canister. Then spray the inhaler in the air three times before using it. Be sure to read the instructions that come with your inhaler because washing instructions can be different for each brand of inhaler.
  • What you do to prepare your inhaler – You need to prime (spray multiple doses into the air) your new inhaler to get the correct dose of medicine ready. Each brand of inhaler has different priming instructions as well as different expiration dates. Read the package instructions for more information or talk with your allergist.

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