Woman using a small volume space with an asthma inhlaer  

A spacer is a large plastic or metal container, with a mouthpiece at one end and a hole for the aerosol inhaler at the other. Spacers only work with an aerosol inhaler.

Why are spacers important?  

Spacers are important because they help to deliver asthma medicine to your lungs. Lots of people have difficulty using inhalers properly – a spacer makes your inhaler easier to use effectively. It also reduces the risk of side effects.

There are several different brands of spacer that fit different inhalers and are available on prescription (including Volumatic, Nebuhaler, AeroChamber, Able Spacer and Space Chamber plus). Medical Developments UK are supporting Asthma UK with 25p donation from the sale of each unit of the Space Chamber Plus, Combo Space Chamber Plus, Compact Space Chamber Plus and Combo Compact Space Chamber Plus – click here for more details.

Spacers are very important because:

  • they make aerosol inhalers easier to use and more effective
  • you get more medicine into your lungs than when just using the inhaler on its own
  • they are convenient and compact and work at least as well as nebulisers at treating most asthma attacks in children and adults
  • they help to reduce the possibility of side effects from the higher doses of preventer medicines by reducing the amount of medicine that is swallowed and absorbed into the body

Handy hints for using a spacer

  • Your doctor, asthma nurse or pharmacist should show you how to use your inhaler and spacer properly and will check your technique regularly
  • Make sure that the spacer you have been given fits your inhaler
  • Put one puff of your inhaler into the spacer and immediately breathe in deeply through the mouthpiece
  • Hold your breath for ten seconds (or for as long as is comfortable) then breathe out slowly
  • It is best to take at least two deeply held breaths for each puff of your inhaler
  • If you find it difficult to take deep breaths, breathing in and out of the mouthpiece several times is just as good
  • Repeat the step above for each dose/puff needed
  • Wash your spacer once a month using detergent, such as washing-up liquid. Leave it to air-dry as this helps to prevent the medicine sticking to the sides. Wipe the mouthpiece clean of detergent before you use it again. Don’t scrub the inside of the spacer as this affects the way it works
  • Using metal or anti-static spacers can help to make sure that most of the medicine gets into your lungs
  • Spacers should be replaced at least every year, especially if you use them daily, but some may need to be replaced sooner – ask your GP, asthma nurse or pharmacist if you’re unsure. 

Click here to download Your Asthma action plan 

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