Probably the most important factor that predicts succesfull childhood asthma control is how reliably and appropriately the medication is administered. With the exception of one or two oral medications, Asthma medications are generally delivered by breathing them directly into the lungs. This requires the use of technology to convert the medication into an inhalable form.  These technological devices need to be used and maintained properly in order that the medication get delivered, in sufficient quantity, to the parts of the lungs that need it most.  If the devices are not maintained and/or not used appropriately, then insufficient medication reaches its target, and the asthma is not adequately treated.

Depending on the doctor’s prescription, your child’s asthma medication can be administered in a number of different possible ways:

  • By Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI) with spacer
  • By Nebulizer
  • By Turbuhaler or Diskus

Below are instructional videos, produced by the Hospital For Sick Children, which demonstrate the appropriate way to use each of the asthma medication delivery devices.

Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI) with Spacer
This method aerosolizes (or converts the medication into tiny airborn particles) the medication which, when breathed in by the patient, gets delivered to the small airways of the lungs. Always use a spacer with this method. Multiple studies have demonstrated that using an MDI without a spacer is very ineffective.

How to clean and maintain your MDI’s spacer


This method converts liquid medication into mist and delivers the mist, via a tube, into a small mask that is placed over the baby or child’s mouth and nose.  The baby or child then breathes in the mist through the mouth and nose.  Nebulizers are often used for smaller babies or young children who, for whatever reason, cannot tolerate use of an MDI and Spacer.

Turbuhaler and Diskus
Both the Turbuhaler and Diskus deliver the asthma medication (in the form of a fine powder) to the small airways of the lungs. This technique requires considerable coordination, so only kids older than 7 or 8 should use this delivery device.



If you have any further questions, please discuss this with your pediatrician, family doctor, or primary care provider.