Should You Use a Spacer With Your Inhaler?

If you use an inhaler, you may want to consider using spacers for teeth with it. The spacer consists of a plastic tube with a mouthpiece on one end and a hole on the other end into which you insert the mouthpiece of your inhaler. The inhaler is used in the same way as a regular inhaler, except that you place your mouth over the mouthpiece of the spacer when inhaling the medicine.

Why should you invest in a splitter, or even take the trouble to use one?

There are three main reasons. 1) Using a spacer maximizes the availability of the medicine from your inhaler that gets into your lungs. When you use an inhaler on its own, there are many things you can do wrong to prevent all the medicine from getting into your airways. Many people don't hold their breath after using their inhaler, or they don't inhale slowly enough for all of the medicine to reach their lungs. Even if you use it correctly, there are large particles that get in the back of your mouth and throat that cause side effects when swallowed. This leads to the next reason, 2) Using a spacer reduces the number of side effects you can have when using the inhaler alone. The spacer blocks the large particles from leaving and only allows the small particles to enter the airways directly. Finally, 3) Using a spacer can reduce the risk of thrush - a fungal infection of the mouth - from using an inhaler with corticosteroids such as fluticasone (Flovent). In addition to using a spacer to prevent thrush, be sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth immediately after using this type of medication.

Manufacturers recommend replacing the insoles every 6-12 months, but if you take care of them (proper washing and hygiene), they can last for years. Would I recommend a spacer to patients who use an inhaler? YES - they can be inexpensive and really take away the uncertainty of using an inhaler correctly. There are several different brands available, and if you try to buy them at a regular pharmacy, you will usually find that they are very expensive (around $35-50). Also, many insurance plans do not cover the spacer. However, you can get the same one you can buy at a pharmacy online for much cheaper. For example, I've seen some on Amazon for around $12.