The main disadvantages to using a pMDI is that a portion of each “metered-dose” is deposited into the back of the throat and into the nose, and they require a fair amount of coordination. Both of these problems can be greatly reduced by using a spacer or a valved holding chamber (or VHC).
No, these are not something found on a NASA experiment. They are both devices used to assist those that experience difficulty using a pMDI. A spacer is a tube made of plastic or metal that adds space and volume between the pMDI and your mouth, improving direction and deposition of the medicine. A valved holding chamber is a spacer but with a one-way valve that traps and suspends the medication giving you several additional seconds to inhale slowly and deeply.
By slowing down the particles emitted from the pMDI more of the medicine makes it into the lungs instead of the back of the throat, providing optimal drug delivery and making it much more effective. It is more cost effective too because less medicine is wasted, and in this day and age few can afford not to be conscientious of their spending.
According to the spacers and valved holding chambers article in A Patient’s Guide to Aerosol Drug Delivery (produced by the American Association for Respiratory Care) disadvantages to using a spacer or VHC include that they are “large and cumbersome compared to the pMDI alone; more expensive and bulky than pMDI alone; Some assembly may be needed; Patient errors in firing multiple puffs into chamber prior to inhaling or delay between actuation and inhalation; and possible contamination with inadequate cleaning.”
Here at Alliance Tech Medical, we offer products that cut down on these disadvantages. We have the BreatheRite Chambers that come in two styles: the rigid and the collapsible (a more compact, portable option making it much less “cumbersome”). No assembly is needed with these products and the pMDI is easily attached to the device. We also carry the Vortex Non-Electrostatic Holding Chamber which is made of metal, eliminating the static charge that holds small particles to the sides of the chamber and interferes with drug delivery. The LeverHaler is holding chamber that is ideal for the elderly, arthritic, and children. This device has a lever-actuator which increases leverage and improves coordination. We also have other options geared toward children. The Funhaler is a small volume spacer that gives positive reinforcement and encourages deep breathing, and is suitable for children 18 months and over. Masks are another product we offer that assist in providing optimal drug delivery in both children and adults. Check out our website for more information on these great products at www.alliancetechmedical.com.