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How Nebulizers Help Lung Conditions

Nebulizers, which turn liquid medication into a mist, are used to treat various lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Vaporizing medications like albuterol, ipratropium, epinephrine, and corticosteroids helps people more easily and efficiently inhale it deep into their lungs.

Like an inhaler, a nebulizer works by delivering medication in a spray or a mist to make it easier to inhale. However, nebulizers are generally a better option for children than metered-dose inhalers because they require less effort. Too, a nebulizer has passive inhalation, which translates to less work for both adults and children. It can also be used for longer periods, making it a potentially life-saving device for someone suffering from a severe asthma attack.

A nebulizer consists of the machine, tubing, medicine cup, and mouthpiece or mask. Most work by using air compressors, which use air to convert the liquid into mist. There are also ultrasonic nebulizers, which use sound vibration instead. And while they can’t fit into your pocket like inhalers, many nebulizers are portable for on-the-go use although most require a battery or need to be plugged into an electrical outlet to function.

Additional insight from Dr. Nair: A misconception that people have about nebulizers is that they get their inhaled medication more effectively into the lungs as opposed to when they use a simple inhaler. In reality, they have the same effectiveness. A regular inhaler even has an advantage as it is easier and quicker to use. The caveat is the need for proper technique, which is a good breath hold. If you have a sudden episode of shortness of breath and you are breathing so fast you can’t hold your breath (classically for 10 seconds) or you are coughing, a nebulizer may be better. As always, talk to your doctor if you want to consider this option as every patient’s needs are unique.

To learn more about how to use a nebulizer, read more on MSN.