Using your Inhaler with a Spacer

  • Reference Number: HEY-982/2018
  • Departments: Emergency Department, Paediatrics


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your child’s condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

Your Child’s inhaler

Your child has been given an inhaler to help with their breathing.

“Reliever” inhalers (usually blue, Salbutamol) help to relax the airways and so relieve breathlessness.

“Preventer” inhalers (often brown) help to prevent the airways becoming narrowed.

Using a “spacer” (or Aerochamber) helps to get more of the medicine into your child’s airways.

It is important that you give the medicine as prescribed.

If anything in this leaflet is unclear, please ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

How to use the inhaler and spacer

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Shake the inhaler well and remove the cap.
  3. Attach the inhaler onto the end of the spacer.
  4. Place the mask over the child’s mouth and nose, or if using a mouthpiece, place it in their mouth
  5. Ensure there is a good seal around the mask or mouthpiece. You should see movement in the valve on the yellow aerochamber or spacer as your child breathes.
  6. Press the inhaler once and allow your child to take 5 slow breaths in and out of the spacer. If your child is breathing very fast, leave it on for 10-15 seconds.
  7. Remove the spacer mask from your child’s face or the mouthpiece from their mouth. Shake the spacer and attached inhaler, to get it ready for the next dose.
  8. Repeat the process until your child has had the prescribed amount of puffs.
  9. Remember to shake the inhaler between each puff, otherwise your child will not get all of the medicine.
  10. Only put one puff of medicine into the spacer at a time. Anymore and the droplets of spray stick together and coat the sides of the spacer before your child can breathe it in.


  • If possible, sit your child upright, as this will help them to breathe in the inhaler medicine.
  • They may prefer to sit on your lap.
  • It may help to breathe with your child so they can copy you.
  • You may want to make it into a game, or use a small reward to encourage them.
  • You could decorate the outside of the spacer with stickers.
  • You could pretend to use the spacer on a doll or teddy too.

Cleaning the spacer

This only needs to be done once a month and the spacer should be replaced once a year. It does not matter if the clear plastic tube starts to look cloudy.

Remove the inhaler port (where the inhaler fits in) and soak both parts of the spacer and mask or mouthpiece in warm soapy water for 15 minutes. Rinse with hot tap water and leave to air dry in an upright position.  Do not put any parts of the spacer in the dishwasher.

If your child is becoming more breathless:

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats your child, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to your child. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your child’s condition, the alternatives available for your child, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about your child

We collect and use your child’s information to provide your child with care and treatment. As part of your child’s care, information about your child will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your child’s information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide your child with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your child’s doctor, or the person caring for your child.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

Your newborn baby’s NHS number

An NHS number is allocated to everyone whose birth is registered with a Registrar of Births and Deaths in England and Wales. You already have an NHS number and your baby will be assigned an NHS number soon after birth. Your NHS number is unique to you and provides a reliable means of linking you to the medical and administrative information we hold about you. NHS numbers are allocated on a random basis and, in themeselves, provide no information about the people to whom they relate.