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Monday, November 24, 2014

Spacers and holding chambers

Some of you may use your inhaler by itself. For me, I have found it to be MUCH more effective to use a spacer (pictured above) or a valved holding chamber. What are they?

American Lung Association (ALA) has a helpful web page that tells the difference between a spacer and a valved holding chamber. ALA says:

A spacer is a device that is placed on the mouthpiece of your quick relief inhaler. When used, a spacer creates “space” between your mouth and the medicine. This space helps the medicine break into smaller droplets. The smaller droplets can move easier and deeper into your lungs when you breathe in your medicine.

( Photo from ALA
A valved holding chamber is a type of spacer that includes a one-way valve at the mouthpiece. This device does more than provide “space” between your mouth and the medicine. It also traps and holds your medicine, which gives you time to take a slow, deep breath. This allows you to breathe in all of the medicine. 

Sometimes it's hard to "time" when you depress your inhaler, and when you breathe in. In fact, sometimes the medicine from the inhaler can go to the back of your throat instead of down into your lungs. My holding chamber helps me get the medicine into my lungs.

Asthma Doc has all of us use a holding chamber with ALL of our medications. I have one for my daily, maintenance medicine, and one for my rescue inhaler.

However, insurance will only cover ONE PER LIFETIME! Who's genius idea was that??!! So, when I need more than one, (since I have two different inhalers) Asthma Doc can still write a prescription for a holding chamber. BUT - I have to pay for one myself. I think my last one was about $20 or $30. You can call different pharmacies and ask for the "cash price" to get the best price.

They are made of plastic, so I don't know why my insurance company thinks one will last a lifetime..... big sigh.


  1. Is that an old photo? I thought your insurance didn't cover advair. Speaking of insurance, I just got a letter in the mail today saying there are new drugs that won't be covered. I use carmark rx and they're dropping symbicort so I guess it's either advair or dulera for me, which isn't a problem. The only problem is the only rescue inhaler will be proair. I swear I don't know why it clogs for some people and not others. I keep my inhaler in a case in my backpack so it doesn't accidentally spray. I wonder what you do differently that it doesn't clog for you. I hope you had a good thanksgiving. I had dinner with my family back In Houston.

    1. Yes, it is an old photo!

      It drives me crazy when insurance keeps deciding that they are NOT going to cover certain medications. It seems like they want everyone to take the same medicine.

      Good luck with the Proair. I keep my inhaler attached to my spacer at all times. I don't think it accidentally sprays, but even if it did, I would be okay because I never end up using all 200 doses.

      Glad you had a great Thanksgiving with your family! :)