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Puffers and spacers fact sheet

Puffers and spacers

What is a puffer?

A puffer (or inhaler) is medication that is used to treat wheezing symptoms. They can be relievers or preventers.

What is a spacer?

A spacer is a cylinder-shaped device that connects to a puffer. You will usually get to take home the spacer (and mask where needed) that your child used in hospital. Replacements or spares can be purchased from your local pharmacy/chemist.

Using a spacer reduces the amount of medicine that lands in the mouth, allowing more to go down into the lungs where it is needed. All children should use a spacer to inhale their puffer medication.

Using a spacer

Puffers and spacers - Steps 1 and 2

Puffers and spacers - step 3

When should I use a mask with a spacer?

Children who are unable to form a reliable seal around the spacer with their lips should also use a mask. The type of mask will vary depending on the size of the child’s face.

Using a mask with a spacer

Puffers and spacers with mask - Steps 1 to 4

Cleaning a spacer

Wash the spacer in warm, soapy water before first use and every month after that. Do not rinse. Shake off excess water and leave it to air dry. Do not dry spacer with a cloth or paper towel. Your child’s nurse, GP, asthma educator or pharmacist should check the spacer every 6–12 months to make sure it is fit for use.

When to seek medical help

Follow the Action Plan prepared by your child’s doctor to manage your child’s wheeze.

Wheezing episodes can be life-threatening. Please call 000 immediately if:

  • your child gets little or no improvement from the reliever medication
  • your child’s symptoms suddenly worsen
  • if you are alone and worried about being able to drive and monitor your child.

Otherwise, contact your local doctor or visit the emergency department of your nearest hospital.

For non-urgent medical advice, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the cost of a local call.

Further information

See factsheets on Asthma and Pre-school Wheeze on the Children’s Health Queensland website at https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/chq/health-professionals/fact-sheets/

Education video series | www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/wheeze-action-plan/

National Asthma Council | www.nationalasthma.org.au/

Asthma Queensland | www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/qld/home

Resource No: FS092 developed by Emergency Department, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.  Updated: June 2018. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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