Nebulizers vs Inhalers: A Comparative Guide

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You are able to get both nebulizers and inhalers through a proper prescription and they both have only one main purpose, to deliver inhaled medication to your lungs by opening up airways.

This is very important to help treat diseases that are lung specific, such as asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Both of these are devices that are equally effective, but they also have some pros and cons to each. 

For example, Inhalers allow you to act much quicker but they also leave a lot of room for user error. Nebulizers on the other hand, can be used for long durations, but they are not very easily accessible on the go (unless you go for a portable nebulizer)

In the end, the device that you go with comes down to your doctor’s recommendation, your insurance coverage and your personal preference. 

What is a Nebulizer?

A nebulizer is essentially a small compressor that is attached to a face mask or mouthpiece so that it can turn the liquid medicine into a very fine mist for the patients to inhale. The medicine is allowed to go directly to the respiratory system and the lungs when it is inhaled in this manner.

If you’re looking for a good nebulizer, then Pronebu nebulizers should be a good choice.

ProNebu Portable Nebulizer

Generally, people have about two treatments a day that last around 15 to 20 minutes depending on the medication of the nebulizer.

As long as the patient is able to take deep breaths and is relaxed during the treatment, they are allowed to participate in other activities. 

Since you are simply just inhaling the medication directly into your lungs, nebulizers are often considered to be much easier to use. On the other hand, inhalers need to be aimed correctly.

Due to this, they can often be seen as a bit intimidating to use, which makes nebulizers the better option, especially for adults who are weakened by their illnesses or even children who are too young to be using an inhaler. 

In emergency rooms, doctors prefer to often use nebulizers since they are a lot easier for the patients to use because they don’t really have to do anything apart from taking deep breaths. In order to use an inhaler, you would need a bit of practice to get the technique down right. 

How to Use a Nebulizer

The process of using a nebulizer is fairly easy. Normally, a nurse or a doctor will explain how to properly use the device as well as answer any of the questions that you may have. Make sure that you read the instructions properly when you get your machine since each of them are different. 

Types of Nebulizers

1. Atomizer/Compressor Nebulizers

This is the most common type of nebulizer that works by creating vaporized droplets of the medicine which is then inhaled through a face mask or mouthpiece. 

2. Ultrasonic/Mesh Nebulizers

These vaporize the medicine by making the use of high-frequency ultrasonic waves. Ultrasonic nebulizers can deliver the medication a lot quicker and quieter compared to an atomizer nebulizer. 

How to Use a Nebulizer

  • Start by washing your hands
  • Follow the directions in your prescription to add your medicine into the cup
  • Connect the mouthpiece or the mask to your machine and tubing
  • Switch on your nebulizer
  • Hold the mouthpiece or wear the mask in your mouth to properly deliver the medicine
  • While your treatment is ongoing, make sure to take slow and deep breaths to properly inhale all of your medicine

Pros of a Nebulizer

  • Provides easier use
  • Pediatric nebulizers can assist children
  • Can be used while you’re involved in other activities
  • They’re more durable and longer lasting

Cons of a Nebulizer

  • Nebulizers are larger than inhalers and can be hard to carry around even though they are portable
  • The sessions of treatments are pretty long
  • They are required to be cleaned after each use

What is an Inhaler?

Now let’s take a look at what an inhaler is. An Inhaler is a small and handheld device that is used in order to get the medicine to go directly into your lungs. The medicine is essentially a spray or mist that they release as they are inhaling.

Asthma medication works quickly in order to open up the airways to provide faster relief unlike liquid medication or pills that need to be swallowed. 

Types of Inhalers

1. Controlled Inhaler

A controlled inhaler is basically your everyday inhaler that is generally used twice within a day, with a 12 hour gap between each use. They help prevent any flare ups or any other worsening symptoms by having medicine administered in order to control inflammation. They can even be used before exercising or any outdoor activity. 

2. Rescue Inhaler

In the event that you start coughing, wheezing, have a shortness of breath or feel your chest tighten, a rescue inhaler, also often called a quick relief inhaler, helps you to get your breathing back into control. 

Read Out our article of Top 4 Best Breathing Exerciser.

3. Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) 

These are the most common types of inhalers that you may come across. Once pushed, they release the medicine in a metered dose like a little aerosol can. 

4. Dry Powder Inhaler

Dry powder inhalers do not spray out the medicine but instead the medicine is delivered in a powder form. It requires the user to inhale the medicine deeply and quickly in order to intake it. 

How to Use an Inhaler

  • You should keep in mind that each inhaler is different so refer to the directions and instructions provided with your model
  • Before use, you should shake your inhaler up and down for at least 5 seconds
  • Remove the inhaler cap and make sure the mouthpiece is clean
  • Create a tight seal around the inhaler with your lips after you place the mouthpiece of the inhaler in your mouth
  • Inhale through your mouth slowly while also pressing down on the button slowly
  • Keep on inhaling as deep as you possibly can
  • Before you start exhaling hold your breath and count to 10 slowly
  • Put the cap back on the mouthpiece and also make sure that it’s tightly and properly sealed
  • This is an optional step, but rinsing your mouth with water, then gargling and spitting can often help in reducing the side effects from certain medicines

It is important to make sure that you’re aiming your inhaler correctly in order to send the medicine to your lungs directly.

You need to also make sure that you press the button down and inhale at the exact same time in order to properly receive your medicine, since you are more likely to miss otherwise and the medicine would instead end up hitting your teeth, the top of your mouth or your tongue. 

You should know that it takes a little practice and time to be able to master using the inhaler efficiently. However, your doctor will provide you with a proper demonstration on how to use the device properly. To make your inhaler a bit more effective as well as easier to use, you can also add a spacer to your inhaler.

If you’re not familiar with an inhaler spacer, it’s a tube that attaches to the mouthpiece of an inhaler. It essentially acts as a holding chamber that helps to slow down your asthma medication delivery, so that directing the medication deep into your lungs can be a bit easier. 

You should keep in mind that you can’t use spacers with dry powder inhalers. 

Pros of an Inhaler

  • Easier and smaller to carry around
  • Provides faster treatments
  • You get quicker relief in the event of an asthma attack
  • Does not require the use of a power source

Cons of an Inhaler

  • It takes some practice be able to properly use it
  • You might require using a spacer attachment 
  • The mouthpiece is required to be correctly aimed

Nebulizers vs Inhalers: Some Key Comparisons

Inhalers send short aerosolized medicine bursts into your mouth directly and work within a few seconds. In contrast, nebulizers create a mist cloud that you breathe through a face mask and can take from 5 to 20 minutes to work.

Due to their smaller size and faster acting abilities, most people suffering from COPD tend to go with using inhalers.

Nebulizers on the other hand are mostly used in hospitals since they can be adapted quickly, are pretty easy to use and also allow the use of different types of medications just by pouring it into the device. You can find the best portable nebulizers here.

Inhalers can only be used till the dose of the medication runs out and you can use a nebulizer over a long period of time.  

Final Words

Which one should you go for then? Well that’s something that your doctor will recommend based on your conditions.

It also depends which one you feel more comfortable since they are both good at helping with respiratory illnesses when correctly used. Go with whichever provides the best help for you!

Charles Lewis
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