Does an Adult Really Need to Use a Spacer with an Asthma Inhaler?

Published: May 8, 2019
Photo: Getty

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 a spacer.

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 (; 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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