Is your child using an asthma inhaler the right way?

Using Asthma Inhaler Properly MainYesterday, we posted an Asthma Inhaler 101 blog, but getting the inhaler is only half the battle of helping your child manage asthma.

If an asthma inhaler isn’t used correctly, it could mean the asthma medication doesn’t make it into your child’s lungs.

“One of the best ways to make sure your child is getting a full dose is to use a spacer, which allows for more of the medicine to get into the lungs instead of just into the mouth,” says Heather Fay, a registered respiratory therapist at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

How do you use an asthma inhaler spacer?

Every asthma patient at Children’s gets a spacer when an inhaler is prescribed – it’s that important.

Here are a couple of videos to help you get the hang of using asthma inhaler spacers. As you can tell, managing childhood asthma is a global effort, since the videos are from as close as CVS and from as far away as the Asthma Society of Ireland.

Are there any challenges?

Heather says that most parents and children encounter a few challenges as they get used to managing asthma. Sometimes children forget to prime the inhaler and don’t wait one minute between puffs.

“Some inhalers also have counters that count down the number of sprays,” Heather says. “Sometimes, people will continue to use them when the counter is on zero because the inhaler still sprays. What they don’t realize is even though it’s still spraying, they’re not getting an actual dose of medicine.”

But all of these challenges are managed with practice and the right information.

10-step guide to using an asthma inhaler

An asthma inhaler is pretty easy to use, but Heather has some tips to make sure you’re using it right.

How to use an asthma inhaler
1. Take off the cap and shake the inhaler hard.
2. If the inhaler is new or has not been used in a while, you need to “prime” it, which usually means pressing the inhaler in the air a few times (be sure to check the instructions that came with your specific inhaler).
3. Connect the inhaler to a spacer (you’ll get one of these when you receive your inhaler at Children’s), which is a big tube that may look like a clear plastic football.
4. Breathe out all the way.
5. Put the mouthpiece of the spacer between your teeth and close your lips around it.
6. Press down on the inhaler one time and immediately start breathing in slowly through your mouth.
7. Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can.
8. Hold your breath, and slowly count to 10.
9. If you are taking more than one puff, wait one minute between puffs to give the inhaler time to refill.
10. After using the inhaler, rinse your mouth with water, gargle and spit.

Do you have any tips to share with our readers? Leave us a comment to tell us how you help to manage your child’s asthma.


Sign up for the latest information from Children's



One Response to Is your child using an asthma inhaler the right way?

  1. Perry Fishkind May 25, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I wish this article would mention that spacers shouldn’t be considered just for kids. The teens in my practice usually ditch their spacers way too early, and even adults get more reliable dosages with spacers.

Leave a Reply