An inhaler leading to a spacer leading to an open mouth

Patient Leader Preferences: Spacer or No Spacer?

Last updated: September 2022

In a recent article, we asked our Asthma.net community members to share their preferences with us on a variety of topics. There are no right or wrong answers! We realized that sometimes the answers to those questions are not one or the other, and we were interested in learning more about the reasons people chose specific answers.

Of course, we understand that you may personally prefer one and not the other, but your asthma, and/or your asthma action plan may require you to use your less preferred choice. Our articles are asking for what you like or do not like. However, as a reminder, it is important to talk to your doctor about what is best for your health and follow their recommendations.

So we asked our patient leader team to share more about their responses to one of the prompts. "This OR That: I prefer a spacer or no spacer." By asking the question in an open-ended way, the options for responses increased, and here are some of them! Can you relate?

Patient leader preferences: Spacer or no spacer?

Christy

“I definitely prefer to use a spacer! Taking inhaled medications can be tricky at times. There’s lots of research about the effectiveness of inhalers and how best to use them. For many people, myself included, it can be difficult to coordinate the use of an inhaler with the inhale, when not using a spacer. A spacer also allows more of the medication to be absorbed. When using an inhaler alone, most of the medicine gets stuck in the back of the throat and never makes it to the lungs. The slow inhale that is done with a spacer allows the medicine to get into the lungs better, making it more effective. There is also audio feedback with some spacers. I like the challenge of doing an inhale without making the whistle go off. I think of it as a way to make the whole inhaler experience a little more enjoyable. I always like a good challenge, it makes life more interesting.”

John

“I prefer using a spacer. But I don’t always use it. Allow me to explain.

As a respiratory therapist and lifelong asthmatic, I am aware of the benefits of using spacers. They help get more of the medicine deep into your lungs where it’s needed. So, I do keep a spacer hooked up to my controller inhaler. This is easily doable because my controller inhaler sits in a basket in my kitchen.

But, it is pretty difficult to fit a spacer into my pocket. And it’s in my pocket that I store my rescue inhaler when I’m out and about. So, rarely do I use my rescue inhaler with a spacer. With my rescue inhaler, I use the 2 finger technique. This is where you hold the inhaler 2 finger lengths from your mouth. Then you time your squirt, inhalation, and breath hold. That’s how I use my rescue inhaler most of the time.

I also have 2 children with asthma. And they need to use their rescue inhaler from time to time. And I find that they are better with coordination when they use their inhaler with a spacer. So, my kids use spacers with all their inhalers every time they are used. Thankfully they don’t need it very often. Still, their rescue inhalers are constantly connected to their respective spacers.”

Nicola

“Day to day, I tend not to use a spacer, it’s easier to keep just my inhaler in my pocket. My spacer is relatively large and plays a wonderful, attention-grabbing tune if I suck a little too hard on it. Nevertheless, I have found that the spacer works better for me, especially when I am mid-workout. The size is not practical for me, and I do find it a little bit embarrassing when I pull it out of my gym bag, but I find that when I take [just] my inhaler when I am out of breath, most of the medication lands on my tongue or on the roof of my mouth. Poor technique when under fatigue will play a role in this, so using a spacer really helps with my recovery as it means that I have more chance of taking in some of the medication when I am huffing and puffing."

What do you prefer?

Some people prefer one or the other, some people prefer to use a spacer but don't use it all the time for various reasons, and some people may have a different perspective! Do you use a spacer with your asthma inhaler? Do you have a preference for using one or not? Share your preference and reason with us by clicking the button below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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