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Your Child's Asthma: Inhaled Medications

Doctor giving instructions to male child patient using an inhaler with spacer. Child's mother is also present.
Child showing his provider how he uses an inhaler with a spacer.
Your child will most likely have at least one inhaled asthma medication. The medication is delivered with an inhaler or a nebulizer. It is very important that inhalers and nebulizers are used correctly in order for your child to get the correct amount of medication. The best way to make sure the devices are used correctly is for you or your child to show the health care provider, nurse, or pharmacist how you use them. If needed, the provider, nurse or pharmacist can then offer additional instructions.


Inhalers with Spacers

An inhaler discharges medication in a fine spray. A spacer is a tube with a mouthpiece that can be attached to the inhaler. It helps more medication gets into the lungs. To use an inhaler with a spacer, follow the package instructions. If you have questions about the right way to use the inhaler, ask your child’s health care provider.

Instead of a mouthpiece, a mask with a spacer is used for infants and toddlers. Your child's healthcare provider can show you the best way to use an inhaler with a mask.

Girl taking asthma medicine.

Dry Powder Inhalers

This type of inhaler releases medication in tiny grains of powder. No spacer is needed. To use this type of inhaler, the child must be able to take a quick, deep breath. Read the package insert to learn how to correctly use this them. Make sure to check the technique with your child's health care provider.

Woman holding small boy in lap, holding inhalation mask over his nose and mouth.


A nebulizer turns medication into a fine mist. The medication is delivered through a mouthpiece or mask that fits on the face. Getting the full dose takes from 7 to 15 minutes. Nebulizers are sometimes used by infants or toddlers. They are usually not needed if a child is able to use an inhaler with spacer properly.

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 6/19/2014
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.