Mar 25, 2011 Posted Under: Asthma

Should You Use a Spacer With Your Inhaler?

If you use an inhaler, you may want to consider using a spacer with it. A spacer consists of a plastic tube with a mouth piece on one end and a hole on the other to insert the mouthpiece of the inhaler into it. You use the inhaler the same way you normally would, except you place your mouth on the mouthpiece of the spacer when inhaling the medication.

Why should you invest in a spacer, or even take the trouble to use one?

There are three main reasons.

1) Using a spacer maximizes the availability of the medication from the inhaler that gets into your lungs. When you use an inhaler by itself, there are many things you can do wrong to prevent all of the medication from getting into your airways. Many people do not hold their breath after using the inhaler, or do not inhale slowly enough for all of the medication to reach the lungs. Even if you use it correctly, there are large particles which get caught in the back of your mouth and throat that when swallowed cause side effects.

This leads the the next reason,

2) Using a spacer decreases the amount of side effects you may have from using your inhaler by itself. The spacer blocks the large particles from leaving and only allows the small particles to enter your airways directly. Finally,

3) Using a spacer can reduce the risk of getting thrush-an oral fungal infection-from using a corticosteroid inhaler such as fluticasone (Flovent).

In addition to using a spacer to prevent thrush, make sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth right after using this type of medication.

Manufacturers recommend to change spacers every 6-12 months, but if taken care of (proper washing and hygiene), they can be used for years. Would I recommend a spacer to patients who use an inhaler? YES-they CAN be affordable and they really take away the uncertainty of proper use of the inhaler. There are a few different brands available, and if you try to buy them at a regular pharmacy you will usually find that they are very expensive (around $35-$50 dollars). In addition, many insurance plans do not cover spacers. However, you can get the same one you would buy at the pharmacy on the internet for much cheaper. For example, I have seen a few on Amazon for around $12.

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