How to Use an Inhaler With a Spacer and Mask

Child using inhaler mask
Grace Huang
Administering a child's asthma medication is not as easy as you may think. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Asthma found that only one caregiver out of the 169 observed did it correctly. Follow these steps to ensure your child is getting the dose he needs.

Asthma is a common kid ailment that makes it difficult for a child to breathe. Here's what you need to know about asthma attacks and how to use an inhaler to stop them.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

1. If your child's spacer has two pieces, put them together, after removing the spacer's cap.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

2. Shake the inhaler for five seconds to mix the medicine and ensure a reliable dose.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

3. Remove the inhaler's cap; insert the mouthpiece into the front end of the spacer.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

4. Place the spacer's mask over your child's face; if an older child isn't using a mask, put the spacer's mouthpiece directly in his mouth.

5. Press the mask firmly over his nose and mouth, ensuring a good seal. (If not using a mask, a kid's lips should seal around the spacer's mouthpiece.)

Asthma is a chronic disease that can be more serious for children. Learn about the common symptoms, what to expect if your child has asthma, and when you should call your doctor.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

6. Place one hand over the inhaler, ready to press down on the canister; use your other hand to hold the spacer's mask against your child's face.

7. Have your child exhale deeply before you release the medicine.

8. Push down on the inhaler canister one time with your index finger.

Grace Huang
Grace Huang

9. Have your child take six deep, slow breaths in order to get all the medicine into his lungs.

10. Leave the mask on; wait 30 seconds before a second puff (the usual dose for a rescue inhaler).

Source: Marina Reznik, M.D, M.S, a physician at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York,

Originally published in the May 2015 issue of Parents magazine.

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