What is a spacer device and how to use
A spacer device is a plastic cylinder, designed to make a metered-dose inhaler easier to use. Many people find it difficult to co-ordinate pushing down the canister of their inhaler with breathing in deeply, so a spacer device is a useful way to remedy this problem. The spacer device also helps to slow down the aerosolised particles that you breathe in, helping them to get down into the lung and giving you longer to breathe them in. Spacer devices are commonly used in children who need to use inhalers and will often have a mask attached to them which goes over the child’s nose and mouth. Adult spacer devices tend to be larger, and often come as two halves that click together. One end of the spacer device will have a mouthpiece that you breathe through (which may or may not have a face mask attached to it) and the other end has a hole where you attach the mouthpiece of your inhaler. The mouthpiece of the inhaler should fit ‘snugly’ into the spacer device without being forced in. There are several different types of spacer device and they are all different, with different brands fitting different types of inhaler, so it is important to ensure you have the right spacer device that fits your inhaler.
When using a spacer device, you should follow these instructions:
- Sit upright or stand
- Remove the mouthpiece cover on the inhaler. Shake the inhaler vigorously
- Check the inhaler works by spraying it into the air if you have not used it before or have not used it for some time
- Insert the inhaler mouthpiece into the hole in the spacer device
- Take some deep breaths and then put the mouthpiece of the spacer device into your mouth and close your lips around the mouthpiece. If you are using a spacer device with a face mask, place the mask over your nose and mouth so that it makes a seal
- Press down the canister on the inhaler to release a dose of the medicine into the spacer
- Breathe in slowly and deeply then hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as comfortably possible
- Breathe out, then breathe in deeply again through the spacer mouthpiece and hold your breath. If you find it difficult to take deep breaths, breathing in and out of the mouthpiece several times will work just as well
- If you need to take another dose, wait for 30 seconds, shake your inhaler, and then repeat the above steps. You cannot spray more than one spray of your inhaler into the spacer device at one time as this will make the droplets in the aerosol stick together and to the sides of the spacer device and you will not get the full dose
- If administering an inhaler to a child using a spacer device with a face mask, the same processes should be used, but the child should breathe in and out slowly for five breaths once the canister has been depressed.
It is important to look after your spacer device.
- You should clean it once a month with warm soapy water.
- Once washed, allow the spacer device to drip dry naturally
NB: Drying with a cloth will cause static to build up on the inside of the spacer and stop it from working properly.