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How to Use Your Inhaler

Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI or pMDI) | Spacers | Diskus | Turbuhaler | Diskhaler

About Spacers
Also known as aerosol-holding chambers, add-on devices and spacing devices, spacers are long tubes that slow the delivery of medication from pressurized MDIs.

Spacer

Spacers should always be used with MDIs that deliver inhaled corticosteroids. Spacers can make it easier for medication to reach the lungs, and also mean less medication gets deposited in the mouth and throat, where it can lead to irritation and mild infections. The Asthma Society of Canada recommends that anyone, of any age, using a puffer, consider using a spacer.

While a spacer can make it easier to co-ordinate breathing in and activating an MDI, it can also make the MDI less portable because a spacer takes up extra space in a purse or a bag. However, inhaled corticosteroids are usually prescribed to be taken twice a day, so the spacer can be left at home for morning and evening use.

To Use a Spacer:

  1. Shake the inhaler well before use (3-4 shakes)
  2. Remove the cap from your inhaler, and from your spacer, if it has one
  3. Put the inhaler into the spacer
  4. Breathe out, away from the spacer
  5. Bring the spacer to your mouth, put the mouthpiece between your teeth and close your lips around it
  6. Press the top of your inhaler once
  7. Breathe in very slowly until you have taken a full breath. If you hear a whistle sound, you are breathing in too fast. Slowly breath in.
  8. Hold your breath for about ten seconds, then breath out.

Spacer

Cleaning Your Spacer
To clean your spacer, follow the instructions that come with it. In most cases, they will advise you to:

  1. Take the spacer apart.
  2. Gently move the parts back and forth in warm water using a mild soap. Never use high-pressure or boiling hot water, rubbing alcohol or disinfectant.
  3. Rinse the parts well in clean water.
  4. Do not dry inside of the spacer with a towel as it will cause static. Instead, let the parts air dry (for example, leave them out overnight).
  5. Put the spacer back together.

Important Reminders About Spacers
Always follow the instructions that come with your spacer. As well:

  • Only use your spacer with a pressurized inhaler, not with a dry-powder inhaler.
  • Spray only one puff into a spacer at a time.
  • Use your spacer as soon as you've sprayed a puff into it.
  • Never let anyone else use your spacer.
  • Keep your spacer away from heat sources.
  • If your spacer has a valve that is damaged, or if any other part of the spacer is damaged, do not use it. The spacer will have to be replaced.
  • Some spacers have a whistle. Your technique is fine if you do not hear the whistle. However, if you hear the whistle, this means you should slow your breath down.
  • It is very important that you consult your doctor, asthma educator or other healthcare professional to review proper inhaler technique.

For more information about spacers and available spacer products click here.



Concerned About Steroids?

There are lots of myths about the steroids used to treat asthma. Are they the same as those that show up in headlines about athletes abusing drugs? Learn the facts in our steroid FAQs.

> > More

Asthma Medications

What are the different kinds of asthma medications? Are you using your inhaler properly? What is an Asthma Action Plan and how do I get one? Learn what your medication does and how to take it properly by reading the Asthma Basics Booklet #3: Medications

> > Download PDF

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DISCLAIMER: Content on this website is for information purposes only andnot a substitute for a qualified medical professional.
For specific information treatment and management your asthma and/or potential side effects of medications and
treatment, please consult your physician.