Q: I’m a 27-year-old with moderate-to-severe asthma. Do I really need to use a spacer as an adult? I find it cumbersome.
Dr. Bassett: The spacer, an inexpensive device that creates a holding chamber between the inhaler and the mouth, has been thought to lead to better delivery of aerosolized respiratory drugs, and thus improved asthma control.
However, a large study published in 2017 looked at thousands of teens and adults with asthma who used a spacer with a metered dose inhaler. The researchers did not find any improved asthma control when those patients were compared against others who were not using one.
Yet, in young children, many asthma experts (including me) continue to believe that a spacer, with or without a mask, is helpful for optimizing aerosol drug delivery.
Bottom line: Speak to your asthma provider about the best inhaler delivery devices and options for you. There is also a variety of spacers, some of which are smaller or collapsible.
In my view, there are few, if any, disadvantages of a asthma spacer device, and many patients do feel the coordination of using their inhalers is improved.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (Allergyreliefnyc.com; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and is also the author of The New Allergy Solution.
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