Consider using a spacer or holding chamber

Spacers and holding chambers are devices that hold medication for a few seconds after it has been released from the inhaler. This delay can be helpful for people who have difficulty coordinating their breathing with the use of an inhaler. Spacers and holding chambers are simple to use can be fitted to most inhalers, and can be rigid or collapsible.

Both devices extend the mouthpiece of the inhaler and direct the medication to the back of the mouth. The difference between the two is that the holding chamber is designed with a one-way flap that traps and suspends the medication long enough for you to inhale over three to five seconds. That makes it a good choice if you have a hard time triggering the MDI and breathing in at the same time. If you don’t have this problem, then a spacer is probably fine.

Whether you use a spacer or holding chamber, you're likely to experience fewer sore throats and less hoarseness, because both devices reduce the amount of medication that sticks to the back of your throat.

Static concerns

If you're planning to buy a new spacer or holding chamber, look for a static-free device. This type of spacer or holding chamber prevents a static charge that can cause the contents of the MDI to cling to the sides of the device instead of floating free in the mist.

If you already have a spacer or holding chamber that you used with your CFC inhaler, you should be able to use it with your HFA inhaler. If, however, you find that you are not getting similar results using the device with your new inhaler, ask your doctor to observe you using it to see if your technique is correct or whether you should switch to a static-free device.

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 07 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 07 Aug 2013