The Essential and Affordable Accessory for the Asthmatic: Philips Respironics Optichamber
Updated: Oct 3
An essential accessory for the Asthmatic
What is an asthmatic without the obligatory 'inhaler.' Used by physicians for many decades, these portable devices have delivered life-saving medications at the moment that the medication is needed. Sprayed directly into the mouth, timed precisely with inspiration, and after significant practice, the asthmatic might get it right.
The Philips Respironics Optichamber
There is a simple device, remarkably inexpensive, that takes much of the worry out of timing the 'squeeze.' Teaching a child to do it right is very difficult, expensive if you consider the waste of medicine that is involved in 'practicing.'
The Philips Respironics Optichamber makes it very easy to administer the bronchodilator and increases the amount of medication delivered to the lungs by around 60%. I have patients that are able to get by with one puff instead of two on their Ventolin, saving more than a few dollars by reducing the frequency of inhaler refill.
I found that you can get these with a detachable mask, something that might be worth having around, but it works very well if you place the mouthpiece directly in your mouth.
The Inhaler, mine is Ventolin (albuterol, Ventolin is the better of the generics) attaches on the opposite side of the chamber.
Attach your inhaler mouthpiece to the opening in the spacer.
Shake the inhaler, before each use.
Exhale and just as you begin to inhale slowly, you actuate the inhaler into the chamber.
Precise timing is not essential as it is without the Spacer. This device is equipped with a high volume whistle that fires if you inhale 'too fast.' Perfect feedback, actually.
My First Impression
I was admitted in January 2023 with asthmatic respiratory failure after a two week long bout of pneumonia (Mycoplasma Pneumoniae.) I had been doing well, I thought, working full time in the clinic. One Thursday afternoon, however, I was escorted out of the office and ended up in the hospital.
Antibiotics, oral steroids and 3 days later, I had a discussion with the respiratory therapist who was giving me my nebulizer treatments. He looked at my inhalers and asked: "Hey, Doc, where are your spacers?" Well, it is not my field of expertise, but I know better now. The spacer makes the inhaler work like a champ.
Being a bit skeptical, I needed to be convinced. The RT suggested that I try two puffs without the spacer, and see how well I'm breathing. He was withholding the nebulizer, I might add.
Then, he told me to take one 'hit' on with the spacer. I did as I was told, and moments later, the effect was unlike any I had previously experienced with the albuterol. I did not take a second inhalation, as it was entirely unnecessary.
The principal advantage to the spacer is efficiency. The principal disadvantage is bulk. It does not fit neatly in my trouser pocket. It is the Essential Accessory for the Asthmatic.
The spacer increases the efficiency of the inhaler by 40 to 60%
The device is probably a reasonable device to carry in a purse, folio or whatever the garment that men are seen carrying through the airports.
I bought three of them, leaving one at the office, one in my bathroom and one in my car.
I have been a physician for 42 years, and I rarely pick up pearls of wisdom as I did from that Respiratory Therapist.
It is now a frequently used piece of armamentarium in the treatment of my patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis.
I provided a link to an Amazon page where you can see the instructions for use.
I chose not to use the facemask, for my own situation.
David S. Klein, MD, FACA, FACPM
Stages of Life Medical Institute
1917 Boothe Circle
Longwood, Florida 32750