Many medicines that help make breathing easier are taken by an inhaler. The inhaler must be used the right way, or the medicine will not get into the lungs to make your child feel better. A spacer is a device that helps the medicine get into the lungs. It holds the medicine from the inhaler until the person starts to breathe in. When the person breathes in, the medicine is pulled into the lungs. Always use a spacer, no matter your child’s age.
There are many types of spacers that may work a little differently. This handout covers the type of spacer used at this hospital. If your spacer is different than the one described here, ask health care provider, respiratory therapist or pharmacist how to use it. Follow the directions for the spacer your doctor recommends.
IMPORTANT: Do not take more of this medicine than your health care provider prescribed. If you have any questions, or if the inhaler(s) is not helping as you think it should, contact your health care provider.
How to Use
- Check to make sure the spacer is clean. If it is not clean, please see how to clean the mask on below.
- Remove the cap from the inhaler. If the inhaler has never been used before or has not been used in 2 weeks or longer, prime (or waste) the inhaler so medicine will come out.
To prime the inhaler, shake it and then push down on it 4 times. Spray the medicine into the air.
- Put the mouthpiece of the inhaler into the rubber opening at the end of the spacer (Picture 1).
- Hold the spacer and inhaler firmly. Shake briskly for 10 seconds.
- Place the mask gently to the face so the nose and mouth are covered. Be sure to get a good seal between mask and face. Leaks will keep you from getting enough medicine. The valve allows you to breathe normally while the mask is held firmly in place.
- Press down firmly on the inhaler to release only one puff of medicine (Picture 2).
- Breathe in and out slowly 6 to 8 times.
- If the health care provider has ordered more than one puff, wait at least 60 seconds and repeat steps 4 through 7.
Cleaning the Spacer with Mask
- About once a week, remove the backpiece from the end that holds the inhaler and the mask. The backpiece will look like a rubber ring.
- Place the spacer, the backpiece and the mask in the dishwasher on the top rack OR soak all of the pieces in a bowl filled with warm, soapy water. Use a dish soap detergent to loosen any dirt. Do not use a washcloth or brush to clean it (Picture 3).
- To rinse, rotate the spacer, backpiece and mask in a bowl of clean, warm water using a gentle motion. Do not use running water. Water pressure could ruin the valve in the spacer.
- Lightly shake away extra water and leave them on a clean surface to air-dry. Do not dry by rubbing it with a cloth.
- Make sure the spacer is completely dry. Attach the backpiece and mask.
HH-V-231 ©2012, Revised 2021, Nationwide Children’s Hospital