Spacers and Peak Flow Meters

Spacers get more medicine to you lungs… So you get the maximum benefit

A spacer is a container that holds the medicine from your inhaler until you breathe it into your lungs. It has a hole at one end that your inhaler fits into and a mouthpiece at the opposite end, and it can:

  • Help more of the medicine to get to your lungs where it’s needed
  • Help to some side effects of steroid inhalers, such as sore throats
  • Make it easier if you have trouble pressing the inhaler and taking a breath at the same time

If you don’t have a spacer but feel you might need one, come in store and ask a member of the pharmacy team. Different brands of spacers fit different inhalers, so we’ll be able to tell you which one’s right for you.

Using your spacer to the best effect
  1. Fit your inhaler into the spacer
  2. Spray one puff of your inhaler into the spacer
  3. Seal your lips around the mouthpiece and take a deep breath in
  4. Hold your breath for as long you can comfortably
  5. Breathe out slowly
  6. Repeat these steps for each dose/puff you need
Looking after your spacer so it works well

Your asthma medicine can build up inside your spacer so you need to keep it clean:

  • Take your spacer apart and soak it in warm soapy water for ten minutes
  • Rinse it well in clean water
  • Leave it to air dry - using a cloth to dry it can cause static to build up and make the spacer less effective

Your spacer needs to be replaced: each year; if it’s cracked or any part is broken or missing; or if a film builds up inside but won’t wash out. If you have any questions about your spacer, come in store and ask the pharmacy team and we’ll show you how to use and look after it.

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Peak flow meters… Measuring how well your asthma’s controlled

A peak flow meter is a device that you blow into. It measures how much air you blow out in a set amount of time. The better controlled your asthma is, the harder you’ll be able to blow out and the higher your reading will be.

Keeping a diary of your peak flow readings is a more accurate way of showing how well managed your asthma is. It’s also useful to show your doctor, asthma nurse and pharmacist at your review or check ups so they can check that your getting the most benefit from your medicine.

How to use a peak flow meter

There are different brands of meters but they all work in the same way:

  1. Put the marker to zero
  2. Stand upright
  3. Take a deep breath in
  4. Seal your lips around the mouthpiece
  5. Blow as hard and as fast as you can
  6. Make a note of the reading Peak flow meters
  7. Repeat these steps three times and record the highest reading in your peak flow diary
  8. Do this twice a day before you use your inhaler to see how your asthma varies from the start to the end of the day
What your readings mean

Peak flow readings will vary depending on your age, height and whether you’re a man or woman. When your asthma’s well controlled there should be little difference between your readings. Your ‘normal’ reading will be your highest reading which was taken when your asthma was well controlled.

Once you’ve started to record your peak flow your doctor may also create a self-management plan with you. This will show you what you need to do if your peak flow level falls or your asthma symptoms become worse, so you can get back in control and stay well.

Managing Asthma
Spacers and Peak Flow Meters
Staying healthy
Children and asthma