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Using an Inhaler with a Spacer

To control asthma, you need to use your medications the right way. Some medications are inhaled using a device called a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). Metered-dose inhalers use a fine spray to dispense medication. You may be asked to use a spacer (holding tube) with your inhaler. The spacer helps make sure all the medication you need goes into your lungs.

Side view of woman with spacer in mouth. Inhaler is inserted into other end of spacer. She is pressing on end of inhaler.

Steps for Using an Inhaler with a Spacer

Step 1:

  • Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer.

  • Shake the inhaler well and attach the spacer. If the inhaler is being used for the first time or has not been used for a while, prime it as directed by its maker.

Step 2:

  • Breathe out normally.

  • Put the spacer between your teeth, above your tongue. Close your lips tightly around it.

  • Keep your chin up.

Step 3:

  • Spray 1 puff into the spacer by pressing down on the inhaler.

  • Then slowly breathe in through your mouth as slowly and deeply as you can. This should take about 5-10 seconds. (If you breathe too quickly, you may hear a whistling sound in the spacer.)

Step 4:

  • Take the spacer out of your mouth.

  • Hold your breath for a count of 10.

  • Then pucker your lips and slowly breathe out through your mouth.

If you’re prescribed more than 1 puff of medication at a time, wait at least 30 seconds between puffs. This number may be different for different medications. Shake the inhaler again. Then repeat steps 2 to 4.

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Last Review Date: 11/18/2012
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