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Using an Inhaler with a Spacer

To control asthma, you need to use your medicines the right way. Some medicines are inhaled using a device called a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). MDIs deliver medicine with a fine spray. Your healthcare provider has prescribed a special chamber or spacer to use with your inhaler. A spacer increases the amount of medicine that goes to your lungs. It may make your medicine work better.

Steps for using an inhaler with a spacer

Step 1:

  • Wash your hands.

  • Check the expiration date and the counter of the inhaler, if present.

  • Remove the cap from the inhaler.

  • Shake the inhaler well. If the inhaler is being used for the first time or has not been used for a while, prime it as directed by the product maker. Make sure to prime the inhaler in the air away from your face.

  • Check to make sure the metal canister is put correctly into the plastic boot, or holder of the inhaler. See the package insert for instructions.

  • Attach the spacer to the inhaler. Then remove the cap from the spacer mouthpiece.

Step 2:

  • Breathe out normally, away from the spacer.

  • Put the mouthpiece of the spacer past your teeth and above your tongue. Close your lips tightly around it.

    If you are using a spacer with a mask, make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth with a good seal against your chin and cheeks. Make sure there is no space between your skin and the mask.

  • Keep your chin up or level.

Step 3:

  • Press the canister on the inhaler 1 time to release the medicine

  • Then breathe in through your mouth as slowly and deeply as you can. This should take about 5 to 10  seconds. If you breathe too quickly, you may hear a whistling sound in certain spacers.

Step 4:

  • Take the spacer mouthpiece out of your mouth. Close your lips.

  • Hold your breath up to 10 seconds if you are able.

  • Then hold your lips together and slowly breathe out through your mouth.

  • After using your inhaler, rinse your mouth with water by swishing, gargling, and spitting out the water. Never swallow it. Inhaled corticosteroids can cause a fungal infection called thrush in your mouth and throat.

    Six steps in using metered-dose inhaler with a spacer.


If you’re prescribed more than 1 puff of medicine at a time, wait up to 60 seconds, or as directed by your healthcare provider, between puffs. This number may be different for different medicines. Shake the inhaler again. Then repeat steps 2 to 4.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alan J Blaivas DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
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