Asthma is a chronic condition that affects millions of people of any age. People with asthma experience the inflammation and tightening of air passages to the lungs, causing asthma symptoms: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with asthma, doctors may recommend that you use a spacer for your inhaler.
An inhaler, usually called a puffer, is a portable device that transfers medicine directly into your lungs through inhalation of the mist it releases. For many adults and children, attaching an asthma spacer makes your metered-dose inhaler (MDI) easier to use by helping the medicine reach your lungs more effectively.
What is a Spacer?
A spacer is an empty tube usually made from plastic with a mouthpiece or mask on one end. One end is attached to your MDI where it delivers the puffs of medication for you to breathe in. It’s an easy-to-use device that helps the medicine reach your airways, prevent asthma attacks, or do both.
Spacers vs. No Spacer
Using a spacer is especially advantageous for younger children or people who are learning how to use an inhaler. Children, especially those under the age of nine, who have not mastered the proper technique required for MDI will benefit from using a spacer with their inhaler. Teaching them how to use a spacer with an inhaler will reduce the risk of side effects, such as sore throat, oral thrush, or other mild infections.
In times of emergency, like asthma attacks, using a spacer is extremely helpful. Why? A spacer extends the time to inhale and breathe in the medicine, making the process simpler. You no longer need to think about the techniques because you'll be in control of the timing and speed of your breathing.
Another advantage that spacers provide is that they reduce the waste of medicine. Breathing through the spacer assists in getting the medicine straight to your lungs. It delivers immediate relief from emergencies or managing symptoms, such as using a Ventolin spacer with your bronchodilator to treat or prevent bronchospasm.
Some asthmatics may find a spacer unnecessary for their everyday medication as they have been living with asthma since they were young. However, no matter how many times you’ve used an inhaler or how long you’ve been having asthma symptoms, a spacer is always going to deliver medicine into the lungs more effectively than you’re physically able to without it.
If your doctor prescribed using a dry powder inhaler (DPI) or a breath-actuated inhaler (BAI) to treat your asthma, you don’t need a spacer. These are different from MDIs as they dont require an aerosol spray to work. The medicine is delivered when you inhale, and some patients prefer this over other inhalers.
Whether you use an MDI or a DPI, it all boils down to knowing how to correctly use your asthma devices. If you can’t perform the proper breathing technique to make the most out of your MDI just yet, speak to your doctor for guidance and use a spacer for your inhaler.
Tips in Using an Asthma Spacer
A puffer spacer may vary according to its size and shape. With the help of your healthcare provider, you can decide on the right type that will best meet your needs. Follow these tips to make the most out of your medication while using a spacer!
1. Follow manufacturer’s instructions
It’s crucial that you follow the manufacturers instructions in using a spacer to avoid wasting asthma medicine. Most spacers including e-chamber have an anti-static coating, meaning you don’t have to prime them with five or more puffs. You can immediately use them out of the box.
2. Ensure that it’s always clean
Depending on the severity of your asthma, you may be required to take your inhaler medication every day. Thus, you’re also using your spacer often. If this is the case, ensure that it is washed at least once a week to avoid moisture build-up and the forming of mould.
3. Use it with a face mask
Children under the age of 4 may have difficulty using their spacer alone. A spacer with a mask will help to ensure that they are receiving the correct dosage of medicine with even less coordination required. To use the mask, puff their inhaler as many times as prescribed and hold the mask in place as the child breathes it in for the correct dosage required.
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