Ask a CHOC Doc: How do I properly use a spacer with my handheld inhaler?

Question: I suffer from asthma, and recently got a spacer for my handheld inhaler. How can I make sure I am using it properly? ­-Anonymous


A spacer is a small device that can attach onto the mouthpiece of a handheld inhaler device via the inhaler adaptor that allows you to receive the correct dose of medication with each puff. The medication fills the inside of the spacer chamber (body) and allows you to have ease of inhaling the medication through the mouthpiece.

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Once the inhaler dose has been administered, simply replace the cap over the mouthpiece and remove the oral handheld inhaler device from the inhaler adaptor port. Replace the cap over the mouthpiece of the inhaler device and store both at room temperature (68 – 77 degrees F or 20-25 degrees C) in a clean, dry area. To protect from moisture, store the handheld inhaler in a plastic zip-sealed bag.

Proper techniques to rinse mouth after using certain oral inhalers to prevent thrush:

There are certain oral handheld inhalers, referred to as inhaled corticosteroids or steroid inhalers, that can increase the risk of developing oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth. Thrush looks like a white, patchy rash inside the mouth and on the tongue, which can be painful and requires an anti-fungal medication to treat it. If you are prescribed a steroid oral inhaler, it’s recommended that you rinse your mouth with water and spit after each dose of the inhaler. After rinsing your mouth with water, it is best to also brush your teeth. By following these easy steps, the risk of developing this is significantly reduced.

Image: Oropharyngeal / oesophageal candidiasis (oral thrush). (2019)

If you have specific questions about your inhaler, consult your primary care doctor.


-Dr. Violet Valencia, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Hospital

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