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Is a nebuliser the best breathing treatment?

Is a nebuliser the best breathing treatment?

Most people breathe without giving it much thought. People with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia or cystic fibrosis cannot take a full breath, leaving them very scared. Thankfully there are breathing treatments to help them address the symptoms and breathe more freely.

A nebuliser is a breathing device that delivers liquid medication to the lungs as an inhalable mist, so that it can reach the lungs where it can be most effective. Nebulisers can be used by people of all ages to help with the immediate relief and alleviation of upper respiratory issues mainly due to allergies and sinuses.

This nebuliser unit can use distilled or ordinary water to create an effective mist.

We recommend to check with your healthcare professional before starting a new treatment.

Who needs a nebuliser?

Nebulisers can treat a variety of respiratory conditions including asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and COPD. For patients who suffer from these respiratory conditions, a nebuliser is their primary source of medication. A doctor will prescribe a nebuliser when you are experiencing difficulty using metered-dose inhalers, like holding your breath long enough or if your respiratory muscles are too weak to use an inhaler effectively.

Often, doctors will prescribe infants and children medicines that are best delivered through a nebuliser to ease the breathing problems.

A nebuliser is also part of the treatment of acute respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis.


How does a nebuliser work?

Nebulisers converts a liquid medicine into minuscule aerosol droplets.

You inhale the aerosol droplets through your mouth and nose using a mouthpiece, a nosepiece or a mask. This fine mist penetrates the lungs easily and thus provides an immediate relief of your breathing condition. For instance, during an asthma attack the airways narrow, meaning you have greater difficulties inhaling deeply. In such cases, a mist may be easier to inhale than a spray.

The main advantage of nebulisers is that there is no particular breathing technique required to effectively operate the nebuliser. That is why the devices are highly recommended for babies, children and seniors.


Why is the particle size of the inhaled medication important?

The aerosol that is created by a nebuliser is made up of thousands of ultra-small particles. These particles need to be so small to penetrate the lungs deeply and be effective. Just to give you an idea: a human hair is 50 microns, while the nebuliser particles measure between 1 and 5 microns. Make sure your nebuliser provides this range of particle size: anything smaller or larger will not help your treatment.


What kind of nebulisers are on the market?

There are three types of nebulisers: compressor (jet/nozzle), mesh (membrane) and ultrasonic systems.

The compressor is a unit that plugs into a wall.  The jet nebuliser uses a compressor (or pump) that generates compressed air, creating an airflow through the nebuliser producing a fine mist of medication suitable for inhalation.

Compressor nebulisers are very efficient and can be used for most of the respiratory medication. If you generally are at home when you take your treatments this 220-volt model is the right one for you. Bettercaremarket has 3 models available: The Actineb AC 2000, the Econoneb and the Turboneb Nebulisers, all from AbleAsthma. They are all heavy-duty units that are also used in hospitals and clinics as well. We also have a 'mini' version of the compressor nebuliser called Our portable version of the compressor nebuliser is the battery operated Travel-Air Portable Nebuliser by AbleAsthma.   

The mesh nebuliser uses a thin membrane containing microscopic holes. The medicine is pushed through the holes of the vibrating membrane. This mechanism vaporises the liquid medication into tiny droplets. These portable units are small in size, virtually silent and lightweight, making them very suitable for travel. Mesh nebulisers are mostly portable and work on batteries, although they can also be used with car adaptors making them very convenient for a busy lifestyle, travellers and children.

The system is easy to operate with a one-touch button and has a fast treatment distribution time. Our Microneb Mesh Nebuliser by AbleAsthma is a pocket-sized and very silent model.

The ultrasonic nebuliser is driven by a piezo-electric crystal below the liquid reservoir. The crystal produces a high frequency vibration transferred through a liquid container, generating a column of liquid medication in tiny mist particles. It is compact and lightweight. If you prefer a smaller model that is easy to carry with you, our portable unit is a good choice as they offer great versatility. Bear in mind: ultrasonic nebulisers are not suitable for all respiratory medication since the ultrasonic mechanism increases the temperature of the solution.  We recommend to consult your doctor and ask whether the ultrasonic nebuliser mechanism suits the medication you’ve been prescribed.

Some users prefer to purchase multiple types of nebulisers for convenience.


What medicine can be used with a nebuliser?

Two types of medication are commonly used in nebulisers:

-       Short-acting solution: corticosteroids that reduce mucus production and inflammation

-       Long-acting solution: non-steroid & anti-inflammatory drugs that will help open your constricted airways and relax the muscles. This medication is also known as a bronchodilator, generally associated with asthma relief. It manages the long-term effects of COPD and asthma.


The bottom line

Nebulisers are very effective breathing treatments. They have several advantages like:

-       the ease of use during an asthma attack

-       multiple medications can be delivered at the same time

-       very convenient to use with young children and seniors

The main disadvantage is that the delivery of medications takes longer than with an inhaler.

Bettercaremarket would advise you to work with your doctor to find a breathing treatment that fits your medical needs and your lifestyle. It is important to consider each effectiveness of the treatment. Having a nebuliser at home can be a good back up plan to avoid an emergency hospital visit. If you are looking for a nebuliser for a child, make sure you purchase one with kid-friendly accessories like a children’s mask.