What is a nebuliser and what does it do?
For some people with certain respiratory conditions, or even those who experience excessive mucus buildup, a nebuliser is a necessary piece of equipment that delivers the medicine they need quickly and effectively. Read on to find out more about what a nebuliser is and how it works.
What is a nebuliser?
A nebuliser is an electric machine that delivers medicine as a fine mist to be breathed in. The device can be used when medication needs to be delivered more quickly and directly to the lungs or, in some instances, when people cannot take tablets. It can sometimes replace a handheld inhaler, too.
What does a nebuliser do?
A nebuliser works by turning liquid medicine into a mist so that it can be breathed in through a mouthpiece or face mask. There are two types, which we examine in more depth below, but the most common one uses compressed air to turn the medicine into a fine mist.
In compressor-driven nebuliser systems there are four main parts to look after, and these must be kept clean and in good condition in order for the device to work effectively.
The main part is the nebuliser machine or air compressor itself, which needs to be plugged in to work. Then there’s the nebuliser chamber (a small plastic container that you put the medicine into), a length of tubing and finally the face mask, mouthpiece or nose piece.
What the nebuliser does is compress the liquid medicine into a mist. As you breathe in and out while wearing the face mask or mouthpiece, the mist is delivered straight to your lungs. In some instances, like if you have sinusitis, for example, the medication can be breathed in through your nose.
The medication in the nebuliser will have been prescribed by a doctor and will be the correct amount/strength for you. Nebicorum can provide varying size face masks or mouthpieces, depending on whether the recipient is a baby, child or adult. Mouthpieces are generally the preferred option by healthcare professionals, as they’re thought to deliver more medication to the lungs, however for children and babies, it may be easier to use a face mask.
What are the types of nebulisers?
Generally, there are two types of nebuliser: a compressor (or jet) nebuliser and a mesh nebuliser.
The former is the most common and uses an air compressor to turn the liquid into a breathable mist. Compressor or jet nebulisers generally need to be plugged in. A mesh nebuliser, in contrast, is usually portable and delivers the medicine in a very different way. It uses vibrating mesh technology, instead of air compression, to form the mist.
What is a nebuliser used for?
A nebuliser can be used for a variety of respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, COPD and bronchiectasis, but it can also be used for people who struggle with excess mucus in their throat or lungs. There are various types of medicine that can be used with the machine, from saline and bronchodilators to antibiotics.
The device is most commonly used for people who experience breathlessness, wheezing, tightness in the chest or mucus/phlegm buildup. For these problems, a doctor will likely prescribe bronchodilators (drugs that open up the airways and allow you to breathe more easily) or a simple hypertonic saline solution that can loosen mucus and help you to cough it up.
For people with respiratory problems like cystic fibrosis, a nebuliser can be more beneficial than an inhaler because it can deliver a greater amount of medication in a more efficient way.
Sometimes, a nebuliser can be used to treat infections, too. This is generally only required where there is a serious respiratory tract infection, for example, and when high antibiotic concentration is required directly to the affected area.
People who use inhalers may wish to keep a nebuliser in the house for emergency purposes, should you find yourself struggling to breathe or you need to deliver a high dose of medication quickly.