Using Your Spacer
This is an older style spacer, today's model may be more manageable in size and shape. This unit is a Vent-A-Haler* VHC (GlaxoWellcome) device. I am not sure if it is still being produced or not as this particular unit is approximately 10 years old. You can see one of the newer types here if you care to look into it more.
First things first - shake it!
After preparing your puffer for use, insert it into the receptacle at the end of the spacer.
Completed it should look something like this.
Inject the dose into the chamber. This is done before placing chamber in your mouth.
Place lips over mouthpiece and inhale. This is a steady intake of air and does not require an exaggerated effort. A long slow inhalation is quite sufficient. Hold your breath for the count of 10 if you can. This allows the medication to penetrate into the lungs deeper and thus be more of a benefit than if you quickly and forcibly exhale without a waiting period.
Do not inject more than one dose from your applicator into the chamber at one time. You should also shake your applicator and wait at least 30 seconds before administering the next dose if you take more than one puff per application. The applicator has a metering device inside which takes approximately 30 seconds to refill. If you do not wait the 30 seconds you most likely are not getting a dose of the medicine but only the propellant.
Manufacturers have indicated that you will get more of the metered dosage each time if you use a spacer rather than just the puffer by itself.
Cleaning the unit is or should be relatively easy. The only ones I have seen are made of plastic and come apart easily.
The frequency of cleaning should be at least once a week or more depending on how often you use it. You have to use your own judgment as to when and how often this should be done.
The best solution is dish soap and lukewarm water. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. I have also on occasion rinsed the unit with alcohol as a disinfectant. I have no idea if this method works but I have never had any infections related to the use of this spacer. Should you chose to use this method ensure the unit is thoroughly dry before using it again.
Know Your Medication
Hard to believe but there are a number of people who do not realize what medication they are taking and why. I think it is a definite indication of poor physician/patient information exchange when this happens. Generally the populace seems to be of the impression that if you use a puffer then you use it to breathe easier. This is not the case at all. Other than the medication injected is used to battle a respiratory disease of some nature and eventually assist the patient in breathing, not all puffers are for the immediate relief of breathing difficulties. Only those that are identified as Dialators are used to immediately and over a short term relieve symptoms of breathing distress.
Ventolin is a dilator. It is also known to be a fast acting dilator. The patient usually notices a positive reaction within 2 to 3 minutes after application. It seems that slow acting and fast acting medications have a trade off. The fast action ones will produce positive results in 2 to 3 minutes but only last approximately 4 hours. The slower acting medications take longer to begin working but can last as long as 12 to 24 hours.
Some inhalers are not for the relief of breathing difficulties. Such a medication is Flovent. Flovent is not a dilator but a means of administering medication to the diseased areas of the lung directly. Flovent is a steroid medication and does not ease breathing difficulties.
I recently attended a pulmonary rehab course. One gentleman on the course with me was using a machine to administer his medication. He used this so often that he had geared up an electrical converter for his car so that he could use the machine while driving. I asked him why he did not use the more convenient puffer. His response was that it did absolutely nothing to ease his breathing difficulties. I was rather surprised at this, and though I did not dispute that the machine may be more effective for some the puffer should show at least some improvement in his condition. He said it did not and in fact thought them totally useless.
I asked to see his puffer. His wife produced it from her purse where she kept it for emergency use only. She showed me a Flovent puffer. I asked where the Ventolin or dilator puffer was and she said this is all he had. I showed him my Ventolin and told him to discuss it with his doctor. The next class he was elated that he had been able to leave his machine at home. What a wonderful thing that little puffer is.
The moral of the story is this. Just because you have a puffer do not assume it is to ease your breathing difficulties on a day to day basis. Make certain that you ask your physician exactly what the purpose of any puffer is and what benefit you can expect to achieve from using it.
Not knowing which particular puffer you have, can lead to serious problems. Should you be using a steroid inhaler in the hopes of easing your breathing difficulties on a humid day, chances are that irrespective of the directions on the unit you will use it far too often. Especially if you do not get the desired results from it initially.
Someone once told me that you could most often identify the use of a unit by the colour of the cap. I do not know how true this is but he stated that if your puffer had an orange cap it was not a dilator. Green or blue were dilators. I cannot confirm this but I do have both Flovent and Ventolin inhalers and this hypothesis holds true for both of them.
None the less there is only one sure way to know. ASK YOUR PHYSICIAN, that's what they get the big bucks for!
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Pursed Lip Breathing
Help For Shortness of Breath
Tips For Living
Using Your Inhaler
Using Your Spacer