How to Use an Asthma Inhaler With a Mask Spacer

The hydrofluoroalkane inhaler or HFA (formerly metered dose inhaler or MDI) is used to deliver asthma medication.

  1. Remove the caps from the inhaler and spacer device. Shake the inhaler.
  2. Put the inhaler into the open end of the spacer -- it’s opposite the spacer's mouthpiece.
  3. Breathe out completely.
  4. Put the mouthpiece of the spacer between your teeth and close your lips tightly around it. If the spacer has a mask, you won't be able to insert the mouthpiece into your mouth. Instead, the mask should sit over your nose and mouth.
  5. Press the inhaler canister once to release the medicine, which will be trapped in the spacer.
  6. Breathe in slowly and completely through your mouth. Some spacers will make a horn-like sound if you breathe too quickly. This means you need to slow down on your next breath.
  7. Hold your breath for at least 10 seconds to allow the drugs to get to your lungs.
  8. Remove the spacer and breathe out slowly.
  9. Wait the specified amount of time for your inhaler, then repeat for every puff your doctor tells you to take.
  10. Replace the caps on the asthma inhaler and spacer when you’re done.
  11. If you have an HFA with a steroid, gargle and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after each use.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 19, 2019
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.