Drug delivery devices: Metered dose inhalers and spacers
St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Pediatric Center

Drug delivery devices: Metered dose inhalers and spacers

The metered dose inhaler (MDI) is the most common device people use to take asthma medication. An MDI allows you to inhale a specific amount of medicine (a "metered dose"). It consists of a metal canister, which keeps the medication under pressure, and a plastic sleeve, which helps to release the medication. When you press the canister, medicine particles are propelled toward your throat where you can inhale them.

Proper technique is critical when using an MDI. If your technique is wrong, too much of the medicine can end up in your mouth instead of your lungs, and it will not have enough medicinal effect. Make sure your doctor or nurse reviews the proper technique with you at every visit, since it is common for people to get careless with their technique over time. Check out these instructions for using an MDI.

Even with proper technique, as much as 80% of your dose may end up in your mouth and throat. For that reason, many doctors recommend that you rinse your mouth after using an MDI. This will reduce the bad taste and minimize unnecessary side effects.

The main advantages of an MDI are its compact size, the treatment process only takes a couple of minutes or less, and it is generally as effective as a nebulizer.

Spacers (holding chambers)

MDI spacers, sometimes called "holding chambers," are widely encouraged by asthma educators for people of all ages. Spacers work with your MDI to deliver medication more easily and effectively, and can reduce side effects.

When you use an MDI by itself, more of the medicine is left in your mouth and throat, wasting your dose and causing an unpleasant aftertaste. Spacers hold the "puff" of medicine between you and the MDI, so that you can inhale it slowly and more completely. As a result, more of the medicine gets into your airways. A comfortable mask can be added to the spacer for small children or others who have difficulty maintaining a good lip seal on the mouthpiece.

Breath-actuated MDI

This is another type of MDI that is used with beta-agonist drugs. The device is placed directly in your mouth. It is called "breath-actuated" because you do not have to press anything to release the drug; the drug comes out automatically when you inhale. These MDIs therefore do not require a spacer, nor do they require the specific timing and coordination of pressing a canister and breathing in. This is a device which may be particularly helpful for the elderly, but like all of the other methods it is not a perfect solution. The drug must be inhaled slowly to work, which can be a tricky technique in itself. Breath-actuated MDIs are not as common as other drug delivery methods.

 


Review Date: 6/29/2012
Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by David A. Kaufman, MD, Section Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital-Yale New Haven Health System, and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (6/1/2010)
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Back  |  Top
About Us
Contact Us
History
Mission
Locations & Directions
Quality Reports
Annual Reports
Honors & Awards
Community Health Needs
Assessment

Newsroom
Services
Brain & Spine
Cancer
Heart
Maternity
Orthopedics
Pulmonary
Sleep Medicine
Urgent Care
Women's Services
All Services
Patients & Visitors
Locations & Directions
Find a Physician
Tour St. Luke's
Patient & Visitor Information
Contact Us
Payment Options
Financial Assistance
Send a Card
Mammogram Appointments
Health Tools
My Personal Health
mystlukes
Spirit of Women
Health Information & Tools
Clinical Trials
Health Risk Assessments
Employer Programs -
Passport to Wellness

Classes & Events
Classes & Events
Spirit of Women
Donate & Volunteer
Giving Opportunities
Volunteer
Physicians & Employees
For Physicians
Remote Access
Medical Residency Information
Pharmacy Residency Information
Physician CPOE Training
Careers
Careers
St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile