Often parents of children with asthma ask us if their child is old enough to use their inhalers without a spacer.  Dr. Anna Ward addresses some of these questions below. For a demonstration, watch Dr. Jason Reynolds show how he uses his spacer below.

My child has asthma and we use inhalers.  Do we need to use that “SPACER” thing? 

Yes.  The best way for your child to get his/her asthma  medication is with a SPACER.  Spacers can be used in patients of all ages (from babies to adults).   Younger children should have masks attached to their spacers.  Teens and adults usually have a mouthpiece.    Spacers are used for daily controller medications like flovent and Qvar as well as rescue medications such as proair/albuterol.   When a spacer is used your child receives more of the medication into his/her lungs.  This means less medication is wasted in the mouth and reduces the risks of sides effects.

How do I use a spacer?

  1. Take off the cap, shake the inhaler and attach spacer
  2. Breathe out all the way. ( This is tougher for younger kids and ok if not fully achieved.)
  3. Place the spacer mask around the mouth with a good seal or mouthpieces in mouth with a good seal.  (We are happy to demonstrate this to you in the office.)
  4. Press down on the inhaler and, within 5 seconds, begin to breath in slowly through your mouth
  5. Keep breathing in slowly, as deep as possible, and hold breath for 5-10 seconds .                                                                                                              (For young children or children who are coughing too much to hold their breath, it is acceptable to have them take 6-10 breaths per puff.)
  6. Repeat  the process depending how many puffs your provider recommended.  For rescue medications like albuterol or proair the usual dose is 2 puffs and you should wait 1 minute between puffs.

How do I clean my spacer?

Your space should be cleaned every 4 weeks.  Take the spacer apart and wash it in clean water with dishwashing detergent.  Don’t rinse off the bubbles but let it drip dry.  The residue from the bubbles puts a coating on the inside of the spacer that helps the medication go through it. 

Anything else I should know about spacers?

If you are using a daily controller medication with a spacer, you should rinse your mouth out after each use to make sure there is no residue of the medication left in your mouth.  If you do not currently have a spacer, inform your provider.  We have them in our office or can write a prescription to have one dispensed from a pharmacy.  Most insurance plans cover one spacer each year.

If you have further questions about spacers or want to be sure your child is using it correctly, please call the office.  We are happy to help you because we know it can make a big difference in your child’s asthma.