Advantages of Using an Asthma Inhaler Spacer
Sometimes called an asthma inhaler extension tube, a spacer is an add-on device for pressurized metered dose asthma inhalers (MDIs). It is a simple construction resembling a plastic tube or bottle, on one side of which is a slot for placing the inhaler, and on the other is a simple mouthpiece or an inhaler mask. Instead of taking in the medication from the inhaler, the dose is released into the spacer container and then slowly breathed in over several deep inhales. Generally, spacers are recommended to use with any "puffer" pressurized inhalers, as they greatly augment their effectiveness. Patients of any age and medical condition should consider using a spacer if they are using an MDI. If you buy inhalers for asthma online, most stores will allow you to additionally purchase a spacer.
Among others, using a spacer ensures the following advantages:
- A spacer allows more medication to be deposited into the lungs instead of the throat and airways, which makes a single dose more efficient.
- When using a spacer, you do not need to match an inhale with the medication release, allowing an easier inhalation.
- Because most of the medication is delivered directly to your lungs, several unpleasant side effects such as irritation and minor infections can be safely avoided.
How to Use an Asthma Inhaler Spacer
First, let us note out that different spacers presented on the market may differ in size, shape, construction, mouthpiece (mask) form, and assembling mechanism. We recommend referring to the instructions provided with a given spacer to make sure you use it appropriately.
- Your inhaler and spacer should be in assembled condition; if not, follow the provided instructions and fit the parts into appropriate positions.
- Shake your pressurized inhaler before starting. Firmly hold it in your hand and shake in up and down 3 to 5 times.
- Remove the protective caps from both the inhaler and spacer. Depending on the brand, a cap can be installed at the mouthpiece, and/or at the inhaler insertion slot.
- Put your inhaler into position at its slot on the spacer.
- Take a deep breath and breathe out, away from the spacer.
- Place the mouthpiece of the spacer in your mouth and close your lips around it.
- Press the top of your asthma inhaler and release the medication into the spacer.
- Take a deep breath, slowly inhaling the medication within the spacer. You have to breathe in very slowly to maximize the effectiveness. Most spacers are equipped with a whistle that will emit a sound if you breathe in too fast.
- Hold your breath for 7-9 seconds, then calmly breathe out.
- Depending on the brand of your spacer, you may need to repeat steps 5 to 9 to fully take in a metered dose. Refer to your particular spacer instructions for more information.