Children's Hospital Colorado

Using a Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) with Spacer

Our experts treat respiratory and sleep disorders from the common to the complex, helping children and families breathe easier.

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The pediatric asthma experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado may recommend using a metered dose inhaler (MDI) to manage your child’s asthma symptoms.

Does my child need a metered dose inhaler?

Children with asthma need ongoing treatment to control their symptoms and prevent other medical problems from developing. Effectively managing asthma helps your child avoid visiting the emergency department or urgent care, stay in school and just enjoy being a kid.

Every case of asthma is unique. Our pediatric asthma experts meet with you to assess your child’s unique triggers and symptoms, make a diagnosis and discuss treatments. A metered dose inhaler is one of several treatment options that we may suggest for your child.

How does a metered dose inhaler work?

A metered dose inhaler is a small pressurized canister that puts a fine mist of medicine into your child’s lungs. It should always be used with a spacer or valved holding chamber so that more medicine gets into the lungs instead of in the mouth. Different medicines come in an MDI. Your asthma specialist will prescribe the correct one for your child’s symptoms.

What’s the difference between a metered dose inhaler and nebulizer?

Both MDIs and nebulizers deliver medicine directly into your child’s lungs. Many parents with young children (1 to 5 years old) find that MDIs are easier to use than nebulizers.

Metered dose inhalers can be an effective option when you use the correct dose and technique. We’ll speak with you and assess your child to recommend the best fit for your family.

How to use a metered dose inhaler

It’s important for you and your child to learn how to use the metered dose inhaler correctly. The device is simple to use, but it takes a bit of practice.

The asthma specialists at Children’s Colorado will teach you and your child how to use the MDI with a spacer.

Watch the video or download instructions on how to use an MDI inhaler (.pdf).

About the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado

Your family doesn’t have to navigate asthma alone. Turn to the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado for asthma diagnosis, education and treatment, all tailored to your child’s needs.

Our pediatric asthma experts are part of Children’s Colorado’s Breathing Institute, the nation’s largest program focusing on children’s lung health. The asthma program at Children’s Colorado is accredited by the American Association for Respiratory Care’s Asthma Self-Management Education Program.

Contact the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 720-777-6181 or schedule an appointment online.

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Amy Wrenn, CPNP-PC

Amy Wrenn, CPNP-PC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Scott Sagel, MD

Scott Sagel, MD

Pulmonology - Pediatric

Steve Abman, MD

Steve Abman, MD

Pulmonology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Stacey Simon, PhD

Stacey Simon, PhD

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Children's Colorado in the news

  • U.S. News & World Report
    Pediatric Pulmonology Clinic in our Breathing Institute ranked no. 5 in the nation
    June 15, 2021

    Our successful management of asthma, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy in addition to our leading participation in clinical research contributed to our top U.S. News & World Report ranking.

  • CBS4
    Impact of child and teen vaping in Colorado
    August 29, 2019

    Public health agencies have identified hundreds of vaping-related respiratory illnesses across the country. Pediatric pulmonologist Robin Deterding, MD, explains the common symptoms in these cases and what all kids should know about the risks of e-cigarettes.

  • The New York Times
    The correct use of an asthma inhaler
    March 11, 2019

    William Anderson, MD, and co-director of the Multidisciplinary Asthma Clinic authored an innovative study on the correct use of an asthma inhaler. Incorporating seven critical steps, this study is one of the first of its kind.