If you are prescribed a puffer, or asthma inhaler, you may want to talk to your doctor of pharmacist about using a spacer as well. A puffer makes effective delivery of your asthma medications much simpler, and can be used with any metered dose inhaler.
A spacer is an add-on device that connects to your puffer to slow down the delivery of the asthma medication from the pressurized inhaler. Spacers are equally effective when used with steroids, bronchodilators, and combination inhalers. By slowing down the delivery of the medication, it makes it easier and more efficient for the medication to reach the lungs, where it can begin working. Another benefit of the spacer is that less of the medication ends up in the mouth and throat. Residual medication in the mouth and throat can lead to irritation in these areas.
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While spacers are often recommended for children or individuals on steroid medications, they can be used by anyone, of any age, and are just as beneficial for individuals who are prescribed bronchodilators as those who take steroids or combination medications. For very young children, or others that may have trouble managing the spacer, there are masks that fit over the spacer, making them easier to use.
Using the spacer is straightforward. Attach the spacer to the puffer and shake. Breath out before closing your mouth over the mouthpiece of the spacer. Spray one puff of the medication into the spacer, breathing in the medication as soon as you’ve puffed it in. Count to ten before exhaling. If your prescription calls for two puffs, wait one minute between puffs.
The spacer does make the inhaler slightly more difficult to travel with, as the tube that makes up the spacer takes up more room than the inhaler it connects to. Maintenance is trouble free, simply wash the spacer with a mild soap and warm water, and allow to air dry.
Just as you would not let anyone else use your inhaler, don’t share your spacer either. It is also important to protect it from excessive heat and not to use if it is damaged, as this can affect the dosage of the medicine you receive. Some spacers have a built in function, such as a whistle, that makes a noise if you are not using it properly. If you have trouble using the spacer, your doctor or pharmacist can work with you to ensure you are using it properly and getting the proper dosage of medication.