A spacer is a holding chamber usually made of plastic and shaped like a football or tube. It makes it easier to take asthma or COPD medication from the type of puffer called an MDI (metered dose inhaler).
Spacers help the medication get straight to where it’s needed in your lungs, plus less medication ends up in your mouth and throat where it can lead to irritation or mild infections. A spacer can also make it easier to coordinate breathing in and pressing your puffer.
Spacers should be used by:
All the latest research shows that a puffer with spacer works just as well as a nebuliser for treating asthma symptoms, including during an asthma attack. A puffer with spacer is also simpler, cheaper and handier, is much more portable, and has fewer side-effects.
There are many different brands and sizes of spacers available. Ask your pharmacist, nurse or asthma educator about which spacer might be best for you or your child. Look for one that you can put together easily and that will be convenient for everyday use.
Remember to shake your puffer before firing each puff.
Check you have the steps right by watching a short video showing how to use a puffer and spacer correctly in our How-to video library.
Clean your spacer about once a month and after you have recovered from any cold or respiratory infection. Your spacer may become a bit cloudy over time, but it shouldn’t be mouldy or brown.
To clean your spacer:
New plastic spacers (e.g. Breath-A-Tech, Volumatic) also need to be washed before you use them for the first time. If a new spacer has to be used immediately, you can ‘prime’ the spacer by firing at least 10 puffs into it to begin with to help reduce the static build-up inside. You can then take your medication dose as usual.
Spacers made from antistatic polymers (e.g. Able Spacer, AeroChamber Plus, Breathe Eazy, La Petite E-Chamber, La Grande E-Chamber, Optichamber Diamond, Space Chamber) do not need to be primed or washed before first use, nor do disposable cardboard spacers.
Your spacer should be checked by your pharmacist, nurse or asthma educator every 6–12 months to check the structure is intact (e.g. no cracks) and the valve is working properly.
It is important to note that information contained in this brochure is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.
It's easier to learn how to use your inhaler or puffer when someone shows you how.
Different types of puffers and inhalers need to be cleaned in different ways