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An Asthma Spacer is a large plastic or sometimes, metal container that has a mouthpiece at one end and a hole at the other end of the inhaler to be placed in. They only work with aerosol inhalers and they are designed to give a metered dose of medication into the lungs which makes it easier to get the correct dose in the right way.
There are different types of asthma spacer and some have face masks so they can be used with infants. The actual training in using a spacer will be given by a Doctor or medical professional but we are going to look at the basics.
The medication is delivered into the spacer, and the medication collects in the spacer which is then inhaled, this avoids the need to get the timing and speed exactly right. Spacers prevent the medication ending up in the mouth or back of the throat rather than in the lungs.
Spacers make the drug more efficient because it is taken in more slowly, therefore it gets deeper into the lungs making the drug more efficient and they are just as quick as a standard inhaler in an emergency.
Side effects are also reduced as they can reduce the amount of drug that is absorbed into other parts of the body and side effects like oral thrush, are also reduced which is a side effect of inhalers, particularly in children.
Remember actual training for users is given by a medical professional but spacers are basically used by:
- Taking off the cap and shake the inhaler;
- Put the inhaler into the end of your spacer;
- Breathe out gently as long as feels comfortable;
- Put the mouthpiece between your teeth and lips, making a seal so no medicine can escape;
- Press the canister to put one puff of your medicine into the spacer;
- Breathe in slowly and steadily (not hard and fast) through the mouthpiece;
- Remove the spacer from your mouth and hold your breath for 10 seconds (or for as long as is comfortable) then breathe out slowly;
- If you need a second dose, wait 30 seconds, remove the inhaler, shake it and repeat the steps above.
As an alternative, if you find it hard to hold your breath, carry out steps 1 to 6 as above, then you can:
Keep the spacer in your mouth with your lips sealed around it and breathe in and out of the mouthpiece five times. Repeat the steps for each dose needed. Research has shown breathing in and out in this way, using your spacer, is just as effective as holding your breath for 10 seconds as above.
When using with children it is important to explain to them exactly what they have to do and why it is important. Then what you do is to:
- Remove the cap and shake the inhaler, your child can help with this;
- Put the inhaler into the end of the spacer;
- Place the mouthpiece between your child’s teeth and lips, making a seal so no medicine can escape;
- Press the canister once to put one puff of your child’s inhaler medicine into the spacer;
- Get them to breathe in and out of the mouthpiece five times;
- Repeat from step 2 for each puff of the inhaler needed, remembering to take out the inhaler and shake it before each puff.
After use, it is important to clean the spacer correctly with detergent carefully not scrubbing and damaging it. Leave it to air dry and although they sometimes look cloudy over time, they will last many months. If you have any questions, ask your medical professional.