Your Child's Asthma: Inhaled Medicines

Your child will most likely have at least one inhaled asthma medicine. The medicine is delivered with an inhaler or a nebulizer. It is very important that inhalers and nebulizers are used correctly in order for your child to get the correct amount of medicine. The best way to make sure the devices are used correctly is for you or your child to show the healthcare provider, nurse, or pharmacist how you use them. If needed, the provider, nurse or pharmacist can then offer additional instructions.

Inhalers with spacers

An inhaler discharges medicine in a fine spray. A spacer is a tube with a mouthpiece that can be attached to the inhaler. It helps more medicine gets into the lungs. To use an inhaler with a spacer, follow the package instructions. If you have questions about the right way to use the inhaler, ask your child’s healthcare provider.

Instead of a mouthpiece, a mask with a spacer is used for infants and toddlers. Your child's healthcare provider can show you the best way to use an inhaler with a mask.

Closeup of dry powder inhaler.

Dry powder inhalers

This type of inhaler releases medicine in tiny grains of powder. No spacer is needed. To use this type of inhaler, the child must be able to take a quick, deep breath. Read the package insert to learn how to correctly use this them. Make sure to check the technique with your child's healthcare provider.

Closeup of nebulizer.


A nebulizer turns medicine into a fine mist. The medicine is delivered through a mouthpiece or mask that fits on the face. Getting the full dose takes from 7 to 15 minutes. Nebulizers are sometimes used by infants or toddlers. They are usually not needed if a child is able to use an inhaler with spacer properly.