How to use a spacer with single breath and hold

The ‘single breath and hold’ technique

Using a spacer with your inhaler can reduce your symptoms and side effects. We show you how to get it right in this short video.

Video: The ‘single breath and hold’ technique

Using a spacer with your inhaler can reduce your symptoms and side effects. We show you how to get it right in this short video.
Video transcript

0:00 Hi, I’m Sonia, a respiratory physiotherapist. Using a spacer with your inhaler means more of the medicine gets down into your lungs and it’s a great way to manage your symptoms. Getting the technique right is very important. It may take a few tries to feel comfortable using your spacer, but it does get easier with practice. I’m going to show you how to use a spacer using what’s called a ‘single breath and hold’ technique. If your doctor or nurse has suggested a different technique called ‘tidal breathing or multiple breath’, watch our other video. If you’re helping a baby or a child use a spacer, watch our videos on children and spacers. To use your inhaler with a spacer using a single breath and hold technique: First, hold your inhaler upright and take the cap off. Check there’s nothing inside the mouthpiece. Shake it well. If your spacer has a valve, make sure the valve is facing upwards. Put your inhaler into the hole at the back of the spacer. If your spacer has a cap, take it off. Sit or stand up straight and slightly tilt your chin up as this helps the medicine reach your lungs. The next steps all happen smoothly in one action: Breathe out gently and slowly away from your inhaler and spacer until your lungs feel empty and you feel ready to breathe in. Put your lips around the mouthpiece of the spacer to make a tight seal. Press the canister on the inhaler once and breathe in slowly and steadily until your lungs feel full. Take the mouthpiece of the spacer out of your mouth and, with your lips closed, hold your breath for up to 10 seconds, or for as long as you comfortably can. Then breathe out gently away from the spacer. Some small volume spacers make a whistling sound if you’re breathing in too fast. If you’re using a large volume spacer like this one, you can use the same breathing technique. Finally, if you’ve been prescribed a second puff, with the spacer away from your mouth, wait 30 seconds to a minute and shake the inhaler again. Then repeat the steps. When you’ve finished, take the inhaler out of the spacer and replace the caps on both the inhaler and the spacer. If you’ve used an inhaler that contains steroids, rinse your mouth with water and spit it out to reduce any chance of side effects. Remember, you can get more top tips on using your inhaler and spacer by watching our other videos.

This video is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you find it hard to use your inhaler, or find breathing problems are interfering with your daily life and sleep, see your GP. If you are having an asthma attack right now or cannot breathe normally and your blue reliever inhaler isn't helping or if you don’t have one, please call 999 for an ambulance. Asthma + Lung UK does not endorse nor recommend specific products. See our general disclaimer.