Spacer for asthma & COPD sprays: How to use inhalation chambers properly & benefit from the advantages

While not all asthmatics and COPD patients use an inhalation chamber, known as a spacer, for inhaling COPD sprays or metered-dose inhalers against asthma attacks, there are many advantages to their use. Read on to find out the most important advantages and for step-by-step instructions on how to use a spacer properly.

Advantages of spacers for inhaling asthma and COPD sprays

Many asthmatics – especially children with asthma – are very familiar with and often use these holding chambers, also known as spacers. COPD patients, on the other hand, are less likely to use an inhalation aid, although a spacer is also a sensible option for inhaling COPD sprays. See below for the most important advantages of a spacer.

Advantage 1: Asthma and COPD sprays are more effective

Spray inhalation only has its optimum effect if as much of the medication as possible from the metered-dose inhaler reaches the airways. A spacer ensures that this happens. This is because fewer aerosol particles remain in the mouth and throat.

Advantage 2: Easier coordination

With the spray inhalation, you have to operate the spray to release it. At the same time as releasing the spray, you have to breathe in slowly and deeply. Coordinating this spray and breathing in is more difficult than it sounds. And so not all patients have the coordination to master this skill. If they use an inhalation chamber, they do not need to coordinate these two actions: They spray the medication into the spacer and then take the time they need to breathe it all in.

Advantage 3: Reducing potential side effects

Sprays to treat asthma and COPD can cause side effects if the larger aerosol particles adhere to your mouth and throat if you do not inhale properly. If you develop an irritated throat, hoarseness, oral thrush or other side effects after spray inhalation, this is very probably because you are using the wrong inhalation technique. The use of an inhalation chamber ensures that this does not happen, or at least that it is not as severe. This prevents undesirable side effects.

Advantage 4: Less irritation when you inhale the spray

The bronchial tubes can be irritated by inhaling asthma and COPD medication sprays and can trigger a violent cough. Inhaling with a spacer can significantly reduce this irritation, which in turn prevents coughing after inhalation.

Using a spacer properly: Step-by-step instructions

We will show you step-by-step how to use a spacer like the VORTEX® holding chamber properly and the best way to inhale your medication.

Please note the following before the inhalation:

  • You are the only person who should use your inhalation chamber. Do not share the device with other people.
  • For hygiene reasons, the spacer must be dry for the inhalation (to avoid germs).
  • For hygiene reasons, it is also important to replace the inhalation chamber after a year of regular use.
  • If you are using the VORTEX holding chamber for the first time, please carefully read through the VORTEX® instructions for use (PDF).

Video: VORTEX in the application

Quick guide to spacer inhalation

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Shake the spray and remove the cap.
  3. Fit the spray onto the spacer.
  4. Take the inhalation chamber in your mouth and form a tight seal around the mouthpiece with your teeth and lips.
  5. Breathe out and slightly tilt back your head.
  6. Release a puff. At the same time, breathe in calmly and slowly. Patients with very reduced lung volume need to take several breaths to allow all the medication to reach their bronchial tubes.
  7. If your doctor has prescribed several puffs, repeat from step 4.

Note: Do not release all the puffs at once at the start of the inhalation, but rather one after another. So if two puffs are prescribed, please spray once and inhale. Then spray again and inhale.

Why is inhalation with a spacer advised for COPD patients?

The use of a spacer is especially beneficial for patients with advanced COPD. Most cannot inhale deeply and suffer from poor lung function. This makes it very difficult to breathe the medication deep into the small airways. However, a spacer makes this possible.

The lungs of COPD patients are often sensitive and slightly irritated, which makes patients more likely to have coughing fits after spray inhalation. An inhalation chamber soothes the irritation and patients can inhale without the unpleasant cough.

At a certain age, it can also be difficult for patients to coordinate pressing the spray trigger while breathing in at the same time. A spacer can help here too. The spray reaches the bronchial tubes properly.

More about spacer inhalation, COPD and asthma

An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

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