How do I use a spacer with my inhaler?

What is the right way to use an inhaler?

When your child takes medication -- pills or liquid -- you know immediately whether she got it down or not. It's not as easy with inhaled spray medication. This kind of medication can end up in the air, up the nose, on the cheeks, etc. When you're not sure if the medication is getting in, it's hard to tell if it's helping or not!

That's why we recommend that ALL our patients use spacers with inhaled medications. Very young patients should use masks on the end of their spacers. This ensures that the medication gets where it needs to be: the lungs.

How do I use a spacer with my inhaler?

  1. Shake the medication canister for at least 15 seconds. This mixes the medication well.
  2. Remove the cap from the canister.
  3. Hook up the spacer to the canister.
  4. Have the child "empty his lungs" by blowing out slowly.
  5. Before your child breathes in again, put the spacer in your child's mouth.
  6. "Shoot in" one puff of medication by compressing the canister.
  7. Have your child breathe in slowly and evenly. (Some spacers make a whistling or "tooting'' sound if the child breathes in too fast.)
  8. At the end of the deep breath, have your child hold her breath for at least 5 seconds.
  9. Take the spacer out of the child's mouth and let her exhale and take some normal breaths.
  10. If your child is prescribed 2 (or more) puffs, repeat steps 4 through 9.
  11. Unhook the canister from the spacer and replace the cap.
  12. Don't forget to take your other asthma preventive medications (if any) and do your peak flows today!

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