Treatments and tests

How to use an inhaler (puffer) with large volume spacer

  1. Take the cap off the puffer and shake it well.
    removing cap from ventolin
  2. Place the mouthpiece of the puffer firmly into the end of the spacer.
    large volume spacer with ventolin being attached
  3. Place the mouthpiece of the spacer into your mouth and seal the lips around it.
    person fitting mouth over mouthpiece of spacer
  4. Breathe out through the mouth to empty the lungs. Press down on the puffer once.
    Person using ventolin inhaler with large volume spacer
  5. Take one slow deep breath in through your mouth and hold your breath for 5–10 seconds. If it is difficult to hold your breath, take 4 slow breaths in and out.
    Person inhaling from large volume spacer

Note: children under 5 use an inhaler (puffer) with small volume spacer.

Why use a spacer?

Using a spacer ensures that much more of the medication gets down into the lungs compared to using the puffer without a spacer.

Spacers work just as well as a nebuliser and they are cheaper and easier to carry around. Most children do not need a nebuliser (an electric device that converts liquid asthma medication into a fine mist) at home.

Less of the medicine gets stuck in the mouth and throat when a spacer is used. This helps to cut down the risk of side effects in the mouth and throat such as thrush, hoarse voice and a sore throat when using steroid puffers.

How should you look after a spacer?

Static electricity builds up inside a spacer. This makes the medication stick to the inside of the spacer, so not as much medicine goes down into the lungs.

To get rid of the static, spacers should be washed when they are first bought, and then every month.

  • Take the pieces of the spacer apart.
    end of spacer removed
  • Soak in warm soapy water for a few minutes. Use normal dish washing liquid.
    spacer in soapy water
  • Leave to drip dry.
    spacer draining on paper
  • Do not rub dry as this causes static.
    don't dry spacer with tea towel
  • Do not rinse the soap off. The soap will create a thin layer inside the spacer which helps prevent static.
    don't rinse spacer with water

Acknowledgements
Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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