How many times in my past 20 years working in the clinical setting have I heard a patient tell me, “my inhaler doesn’t work”.  There are so many working components to simply using an inhaler. Asthma education and medication education go hand in hand. We all have our barriers to overcome. No one person is perfect.

So, what is an inhaler and what is it for?

A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) gives a measured amount of medication in the form of a mist to people with asthma and COPD. It can be very effective, but it can also be hard to use in the right way because the doses are delivered so quickly.

Your healthcare professional may advise you to use your inhaler in conjunction with a spacer to improve the efficiency of your inhaler (MDI).

Spacers make it easy to use an inhaler. A spacer allows you to prevent difficulties like spraying and inhaling at the same time, or taking in the medication too quickly. Without a spacer, and if your technique is improper, most of the medicine will be wasted in your throat rather than your lungs. Your tongue, mouth and throat are moist and most of the medication adheres to those areas and is washed.

By using a spacer you can prevent this by taking in the medication from the spacer slowly and deeply, instead of the medication shooting into your mouth at speeds up to 60 mph. No wonder most of the medication is lost in your mouth or ever delivered into the esophagus. (The esophagus is the pathway to the stomach)

Spacers get drugs into the lungs.  When the medicine is discharged from the inhaler into the spacer it breaks up into droplets. These droplets may be inhaled deeply. Plastic spacers prevent medicine from sticking to it. A spacer can be purchased at the drugstore, on-line or by your medical facility.

Well, I would say most of the patients that first came through the emergency room for their asthma or COPD never used a spacer. The majority of them would say, I lost it, it’s too bulking and/ or my doctor never gave me one.

What if you don’t have a spacer? What is the next best thing?

There are many techniques in using a metered dose inhaler.

Please watch my video “Inhaler Delivery Question”.

***Disclaimer: This information is not designed to substitute a doctor’s advice, diagnosis, or treatment based on a patient’s individual circumstances. Patients must visit a health care practitioner for thorough information about their health, medical issues, and treatment options, including drug risks and benefits.***

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