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Who taught you how to use an inhaler?

This article is about kids not using their inhalers correctly. It made me remember the quick lesson my pharmacist gave me on how to use an inhaler and a spacer. No one besides him ever showed me how to use an inhaler. 

My old pharmacist wasn't in business anymore when I filled my daughter's first inhaler prescription. If I hadn't known how to use an inhaler … wow!

Poor inhaler technique fails to deliver medications deep into the airways where they are needed. Among the more common mistakes children make is using an inhaler without a spacer, a plastic tube attached to the mouthpiece. When children activate the inhaler, the spacer lets the medication mix with air so that it can be inhaled more effectively. For smaller children, spacers often are paired with masks to make the process easier.

“Without a spacer, 70 to 80 percent of the medicine ends up in the child’s mouth and never gets deep into the lungs where it needs to be,” said Lanser. “If they continue to make those mistakes dose after dose, their symptoms begin to worsen and often those children end up in the hospital.”

So how about you? Who taught you how to use an inhaler and were you given a spacer?

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  • Kathy P

    The first time I was given an RX for albuterol, I don't think anyone showed me or told me how to use it. And definitely no spacer.

    I remember the first time I even heard of a spacer was when I went to a talk done by my allergist. It was not long after I'd gotten the formal diagnosis of asthma. But he hadn't told me about spacers in the office. These days, he'll hand me one – like when he changed me from Advair to Dulera.

    I do recall him giving me ones for the kids when they were first given inhalers. But they were little and needed the mask type.

  • K8sMom2002

    I will confess, I don't use a spacer now. I did think I have the "hang of it" but am wondering now if maybe I should start using one … I think there's some foldable spacers out there? Hmmm ….

    DD got a prescription for an inhaler that didn't require a spacer from her pediatrician (sounds strange for her to still be seeing a pediatrician when she's 15, but he knows her history and that's important!), but her allergist wanted her to continue with the Ventolin. No spacer for that one, either, but again … I thought once you got the hang of it … Now I'm questioning everything. 

    Time to talk to our allergist!

  • Emilee R Ashline

    I had to teach myself. I have a spacer and I still use that regularly so more medicine goes to my lungs. Sometimes I can't inhale enough especially during an attack, so the spacer makes a difference for me

  • Emilee R Ashline

    I definitely would. It works a lot better especially during an attack so you can get more.medicine in your lungs and breathe better

  • Emilee R Ashline

    Unfortunately I had to get mine from the emergency room when my asthma was so bad, i almost passed out. They put me on a nebulizer and gave me some prednisone along with the spacer. But definitely ask your pharmacist or doctor if you can get one

  • Kathy P

    There are actually 2 different things – spacers and valved holding chambers. We've always used valved holding chambers. But I have made a diy spacer with a cut down paper towel roll.I think you need an RX for for a holding chamber, so maybe ping the doc to call it in next time you are getting refills.

  • K8sMom2002

    My spacer was a clear plastic rounded rectangle — think a rectangle with the sides squished in and the top and bottom bulging out — no valve. Neat idea on the paper towel roll — I'll remember that. I'll also talk to our doctors as well.