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What is an Asthma Spacer?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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An asthma spacer is a device that can improve the dosage effectiveness of aerosol asthma inhalers. By releasing the medication into an attached empty chamber before inhaling, the process of using an inhaler can be simplified. Spacers are believed to allow more medication to reach the lungs, thereby reducing the frequency of doses and lowering the chances of inhaler-related side effects.

Most inhalers use an aerosol device to deliver medication. A patient places the end of the inhaler inside his mouth and presses down on the opposite end, causing the medication to spray into the mouth. Patients are usually directed to inhale deeply to ensure the medication reaches the lungs. Unfortunately, the pressurized medication sprays out very quickly, often coating the back of the mouth and throat where it is later swallowed. This can prevent much of the dose from reaching the lungs and can lead to the need for frequent or repeated doses to see an effect.

An asthma spacer is typically a plastic or metal tube that is attached to the end of an inhaler. Instead of spraying the inhaler directly into the mouth, the patient fires the inhaler into the spacer, then breathes through the open end of the spacer. This process lowers the speed of the medication, which allows for more to be properly inhaled into the lungs.

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Some experts recommend that very young or elderly asthma patients use an asthma spacer to increase the effectiveness of the medication. Using a regular inhaler requires considerable coordination which young or infirm patients may not be able to achieve. Additionally, those subject to serious side effects from asthma medication may want to use an asthma spacer to avoid having to repeat doses.

Patients having difficulty with an inhaler may want to speak to a doctor and insurance provider about getting an asthma spacer. Some insurance companies may not cover the device, as it can be deemed an accessory rather than necessary medical equipment. Many experts recommend having a physician explain and demonstrate the proper application of an asthma spacer before beginning use.

Asthma spacers can be purchased through many primary care doctor’s offices as well as from medical supply companies. Consider asking a doctor to find out exactly what type of spacer will fit the prescribed inhaler, as they can vary in size, capabilities, and mechanics. There are also some websites that offer blueprints for building a homemade asthma spacer, but these should be used cautiously. Improper size or insufficiently sanitized materials could lead to serious health issues when using a homemade medical product.

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