Download the Spacers – What You Need to Know PDF.


Many asthma medications come in a small metal canister called a metered dose inhaler (MDI). The inhaler expels the medication in a fast, short burst. It is recommended that you use a spacer (holding chamber) with your MDI. There are many different types of spacers. Your health care provider can prescribe and show you how to use the one that is best for you.

If your health care provider has given you one quick relief inhaler and one long-term controller inhaler, it is important to know which one to use when.


When possible, use a spacer with your metered dose inhaler. A spacer is a plastic tube that connects to the mouthpiece of an inhaler and helps get medication deeper into the lungs and airways. It helps direct the medication to the airways so that each dose of medication is more effective.

Clean your spacer and MDI each week to prevent the buildup of medication:

  1. Take the spacer apart (as recommended by manufacturer’s instructions)
  2. Wash each piece separately with warm, soapy water
  3. Do not rinse
  4. Let dry on a clean, lint-free towel

Some spacers have a delicate, soft valve disc under the mouthpiece. Do not rip off the disk. If the disk begins to harden or curl, replace your spacer.

How to Use Your MDI with a Spacer

  1. Remove all food, candy and gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Remove the cap from your inhaler and spacer. Make sure to clean out any dust or fuzz so that there is nothing inside either one.
  4. Shake the inhaler for 5 seconds.
  5. Place the inhaler into the spacer.
  6. Take a deep breath in and out.
  7. Put the spacer in your mouth and seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  8. Press down on your inhaler and take a long, slow breath in.
  9. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then breathe out.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Peak Flow Meters

Download the Peak Flow Meters – What You Need to Know PDF.


Peak flow meters measure how you push air out of your lungs. Your health care provider can prescribe one for you to help manage your asthma. Peak flow meters are usually used with Asthma Action Plans.

Using Your Peak Flow Meter

  1. Remove all food, candy or gum from your mouth.
  2. Stand up straight.
  3. Set the marker to zero.
  4. Take in a deep breath.
  5. Place the peak flow meter in your mouth and seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  6. Exhale hard and fast into the meter.
  7. Remove the peak flow meter from your mouth.
  8. Look at your number and write it down.
  9. Repeat all the above steps two more times.
  10. After three attempts, record the highest number into your log.

Cleaning Instructions

  1. Clean peak flow meter once a week.
  2. Wash with warm water and a mild liquid soap.
  3. Rinse gently and allow to air dry completely on a lint free towel.
  4. Refer to your peak flow meter instructions for further information.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Asthma Medications

Download the Asthma Medications – What You Need to Know PDF.


There are two main types of asthma medications: quick-relief (or reliever) and long-term control (or controllers). Talk to your health care provider to determine the medication(s) you should use.

Quick-relief Medication (Reliever)

Who should have it?

  • Everyone with asthma should be prescribed quick-relief medication by a health care provider
  • Carry it with you at all times

How does it work?

  • Relieves the squeezing of the muscles around the airways
  • Works within 10 to 15 minutes of use

When should it be used?

  • Upon first warning sign

What are the side effects?

  • Rapid heart rate, shaky hands, jittery feeling
  • Symptoms go away a half-hour after using your medication

What are some common types?

  • Pro Air®
  • Proventil®
  • Ventolin®
  • Xopenex®

Helpful tips

  • Label your quick-relief medication with “QR”
  • Use a spacer with your quick-relief inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs


Long-Term Controller Medication

Who Should Have It?

  • Only those with a prescription

How Does It Work?

  • Prevents swelling and mucus build up in the airways
  • Makes airways less sensitive to triggers

When Should It be Used?

  • Every day
  • Even if you do not have symptoms

What are the Side Effects?

  • Hoarseness
  • Thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth (rinse your mouth with water and spit to avoid thrush)

What are Some Common Types?

  • Advair
  • Flovent
  • Pulmincort
  • Qvar
  • Singulair
  • Symbicort

Helpful Tips

  • Do not store in the bathroom (humidity can make medication clump)
  • Use a spacer with your long-term controller inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.

Asthma Triggers

Download the Asthma and Triggers – What You Need to Know PDF.


Triggers are things that bother sensitive airways and lead to asthma episodes. Triggers can include allergens and irritants. Not all triggers affect people the same way, so it is important for everyone with asthma to know their triggers and ways to avoid them.

General Trigger Tips

  • Always carry your quick-relief inhaler.
  • Know your triggers and avoid contact with them as much as possible.
  • Take your triggers seriously; asthma gets worse with every trigger you encounter.


Dust mites

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in and eat dust. Possible solutions for reducing dust mites include using dust mite-proof mattress and pillow covers, washing sheets and stuffed animals regularly, and remove rugs or carpets.

Animals with Fur or Feathers

Animals with fur produce dander, or dried saliva and skin cells. When possible, keep animals out of bedrooms and off of upholstered furniture.


Mold grows in areas that are dark, wet or humid. If mold is present, fix the source of mold and clean with bleach solution (10 parts water to 1 part bleach).


Pollen travels through the air and comes into the home at certain times of the year. Keep windows closed and avoid being outside on days with high pollen levels.


Many people are allergic to cockroaches. To reduce the likelihood of cockroaches, keep food and garbage sealed. Avoid eating in the living room and bedroom. Use gels and roach motels instead of sprays, which can trigger asthma.



Smoke in any form can irritate the airways. Do not allow smoking in the house and avoid fireplaces.


Outdoor air pollution can irritate the airways. Limit physical activity outside on days with bad air quality. Check for daily forecasts.

Strong Odors

Perfumes and cleaning products can make asthma worse. Avoid using strong perfumes, aerosol sprays, candles and cleaning products with strong odors.

Other Triggers


Cold air can dry out airways and trigger asthma. Cover your mouth and nose on cold days. Hot, humid days hold more pollen and pollution in the air. Stay indoors.


Exercise can trigger asthma symptoms. Talk to your health care provider about using your quick-relief inhaler 15 minutes before exercising.


A cold or the flu can make controlling your asthma hard. Get your flu shot every year. Wash your hands frequently.


Laughter, crying and anger change breathing patterns. Always keep asthma in good control and carry a quick-relief inhaler.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.