Did you know that up to to 90% of people using inhalers do not use them correctly?
How can that many people be doing something so simple wrong? Because they are using their inhalers without a spacer, which many people aren’t even aware exists.
So what is a spacer and why is it important?
A spacer (AKA holding chamber) is an accessory that attaches to the mouthpiece of an inhaler and extends the distance between the mouth and the inhaler. When an inhaler is triggered, the medication is dispensed rapidly, causing much of the medication to be deposited in the mouth and back of the throat. When inhaling corticosteroids, the medication settling in the mouth, can increase the risk of thrush. The spacer holds the medication inside the chamber until it is ready to be inhaled into the lungs, thus slowing the particles and improving the effectiveness and delivered amount of the medication. Spacers also take away the effort of coordinating the inhaler trigger and inhalation, because the chamber holds the medication until the user is ready. How much more effective could your inhaler be with a spacer to properly dispense the medication into the lungs?
Here are two images showing the medication disbursement of an inhaler with and without a spacer.
As you can see, the medication particles WITHOUT a spacer, collect mostly in the mouth and throat, while the medication WITH a spacer gets deposited primarily in the targeted area of the lungs.
Tips and Facts
-Younger children and babies may use a mask that fits on the end of their spacer and covers their nose and mouth for better delivery.
-Spacers should be changed every 6-12 months.
-They often appear cloudy.
-Clean your spacer monthly with water and mild soap and allow it to air dry.
-Using a paper or cloth towel to dry can cause an electrostatic charge on the inside of the spacer, resulting in the medication sticking to the sides.