How to use a spacer

Spacers (also called holding chambers) work with your metered dose inhaler (MDI) to deliver inhaled medication more easily and effectively, and can reduce side effects. They are useful for people of all ages.

When you use an MDI by itself, more of the medicine is left in your mouth and throat, wasting your dose and causing an unpleasant aftertaste. Spacers hold the "puff" of medicine between you and the MDI, so that you can inhale it slowly and more completely. As a result, more of the medicine gets into your airways.


  1. First, insert the mouthpiece of your inhaler into the opening at the flat end of the spacer.
  2. Hold your spacer and inhaler together and shake well, at least four times.
  3. Seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece on the spacer.
  4. Keep your body straight and your eyes forward. Exhale.
  5. Spray one puff of medicine into the spacer, and immediately begin to inhale slowly, taking a full deep breath.
  6. Remove the spacer from your mouth. Hold your breath and count to 10. Slowly exhale.

If your doctor has instructed you to take more than one puff of medication, repeat this procedure.

A tip for a better fit

A comfortable mask can be added to the spacer for small children or others who have difficulty maintaining a good lip seal on the mouthpiece.


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Review Date: 5/16/2007

Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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