There are many medications used in the treatment of asthma, one of them being a puffer. If you have ever used an asthma puffer, you will know just how much coordination is required.


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So if adults have difficulty using these puffers, how can parents make sure their child is getting the right amount of asthma medication?

The importance of managing asthma in kids

Asthma is an inflammatory condition that affects the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Without treatment, it can evidently affect day-to-day activities.

Good asthma management for kids means they can continue with all their daily activities without having an asthma attack.

The challenges of a puffer

For an adult to use an asthma puffer correctly, you need to first breathe out then make a good seal around the mouthpiece with your lips, then holding the puffer upright breathe in slowly and steadily and press the puffer to release the asthma medication and continue breathing.

After all this you need to remove the puffer and hold your breath for 10 seconds before finally breathing out. Sound complicated? You bet it is. Many adults have difficulty getting this right, so you can imagine the struggles parents go through to get their kids to do this.

90% of people with asthma don’t know how to use their device correctly.

The simple solution: spacers

A spacer is a very simple device to make the process much simpler for parents.

Essentially it is a clear plastic container sometimes in the shape of a football or a long cylinder with an opening on one end to insert the puffer and another opening on the opposite end as the mouthpiece. Besides making it easier for parent and child (as good coordination is not required), most importantly…

The spacer makes sure more medication reaches the lungs where the inflammation is occurring.

How to use an asthma spacer with kids:

This is what is called the Four Breath Technique and is probably the easiest one for children and is often the technique used in an emergency:

  1. Remove the cap on the puffer and shake the puffer well.
  2. Attach the puffer into the spacer
  3. If a mask is not required, put your mouth on the mouthpiece and create a good tight seal around it.
  4. If a mask is used, put the mask over your child’s nose and mouth.
  5. Tell your child to breathe out gently.
  6. Press the puffer once to release asthma medication into the spacer.
  7. Tell your child to breathe in as per normal and then breathe out into the spacer. If no mask is used, make sure their lips continue to make a tight seal around the mouthpiece.
  8. Repeat this another 3 times (total of 4 normal breaths)
  9. If more puffs of medication are needed, repeat the whole process again.

This article is not designed to diagnose, it is here to help parents know what to watch for. Please always seek medical help. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to demonstrate how to use a spacer with your kids and how to clean the spacer.

Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist first before purchasing an asthma spacer to make sure you have the right one for your child.

Does your child use a spacer? Do they find it easier? Please SHARE in the comments below.

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  • Spacers are brilliant! Both myself and my older daughter’s father had asthma as kids and although her older brother didn’t get it, she did. She has the spacer and it’s so much easier than using just the puffer.


  • I found a spacer today in the cupboard. I do not know where it came from.???????? I use a Symbicort turbo inhaler . they are a lot easier to use.


  • agreed, it is extremely important as is getting a good treatment plan – most GP’s are not experts…. I say this from experience. The mistreatment my son has got has ruined his teeth enamel, and affected him greatly as a young one..


  • An asthma management plan is so important and everyone in a child’s life needs to be made aware of the plan. Thanks for the info.


  • The spacer certainly makes administering ventolin to our little boy much easier and more effective.


  • i don’t deal with this issue personally but it is really handy to know about this product, in case i can tell any of my friends about it. this sounds like a good idea and it might help the kids reduce anxiety about “getting it right” when they need to take their medication.


  • If these products make it easier, it’s a yes from me.


  • My teen son, as part of his Asthma Management Plan, is now required to use a puffer and spacer. Initially, he tried the spacer, but now feels much more comfortable and confident using just the puffer. Having read this article, I now need to discuss this with him to ensure he’s using it correctly.


  • I had to use a spacer on my baby. Of course you can’t instruct a baby to breath out and to be honest it was fighting to place to spacer properly. I had to lay her on the floor with head between my legs and my legs on top of her arms, using one hand to hold the spacer and the other to keep her legs from kicking the spacer. I would let her breath 4x after every puff and in this way it went quite well.


  • I find the spacer great for me too. You get more medication into your lungs quickly. So, not only good for children but adults too!

    • Good point – it does help adults too.


  • My kids use a spacer and I use one too. Much easier for the kids and myself & the amount of medication delivered is much higher. I have a mini spacer that no longer than a lipstick which is perfect and handy to keep in my bag all the time. The kids take their medication much more easily with the spacer and no stress at all. To other mums please use spacers as they’re inexpensive but lifesaving in getting the most amount of medication in.


  • Puffers can be tricky. Spacers are easier by far.


  • I found spacers were so much easier to use for our children. One of our kids had to breathe in more than the four times because he couldn’t breathe deep enough (but still had the same amount of medication delivered into the spacer, just more breaths between pushing the inhaler). We also had a mini spacer for when they were a bit older.


  • My daughter who is almost four has a spacer and a puffer. After reading this I have realised that I have been giving it to her the wrong way. When it comes to kids being sick its always better to know exactly how to give medication especially when it comes to something so serious like breathing.


  • Thanks for your detailed description. My husband was told to use one of these devices to get a more accurate dose of another medication he has to take, but no directions from his doctor. This will make it easier for both of us. Thanks again


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