Nebulizer Machine: Setup, Uses, Costs and Everything You Need To Know

A nebulizer is a breathing device used in the management of respiratory diseases such as Asthma, chronic obstructive lung/pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and a few other lung conditions. A nebulizer machine delivers medication in the form of vapors or mist which is inhaled by the patient, typically through a mouthpiece. It is often used when the usually prescribed inhalers are difficult to use or become ineffective for the patient. A nebulizer provides the drug with lesser effort and is the treatment of choice when the condition of the patient is worsening.

A nebulizer is a small device and is easy to carry around. Most nebulizers function by utilizing air compressors and are referred to as the atomizer, jet or a compressor nebulizer. There is also a type of nebulizer, which utilizes sound vibrations and is quieter but more expensive than the compressor type. It is called the vibrating mesh or the ultrasonic nebulizer.


What does a nebulizer machine do?

A nebulizer is a machine used for treating respiratory conditions such as Asthma and COPD in which the patient has difficulty in breathing due to narrowing of air passages. It delivers the drugs in the form of mist that is inhaled by the patient usually by means of a mouthpiece.


How does a nebulizer machine work?

A nebulizer that is used most commonly is the jet nebulizer. It works by using a compressor that is connected by a tube to the main unit causing the air to be compressed, which is then inhaled by the patient along with drugs.

There is another type of nebulizer, called the Ultrasonic nebulizer which produces high frequency sound waves. This results in strong vibrations that generate tiny mist particles, which carries the drugs deeper into the lungs of the patient.


How do you set up and use a nebulizer machine?

There are a few essential steps in setting up and using a nebulizer. They are described below-

1. The first step involves washing your hands.
2. Put the prescribed medication in the small container or medicine cup. To avoid spilling of medicine, it is important to close the cup tightly. Moreover, always keep the mouthpiece straight up.
3. Attach the mouthpiece and hose to the small container (medicine cup), which holds the medication, if you are using a compressor nebulizer. The vibrating mesh nebulizer has a mesh cap situated just above the bottle or container of the medicine. More than a thousand little laser-drilled holes are present in the mesh cap. If you are using a vibrating mesh nebulizer then you have to submerge the mesh cap in the medicine by tilting it slightly towards yourself to create the mist particles.
4. Put the mouthpiece inside your mouth and firmly put your lips around it.
5. Breathe via your mouth and keep breathing until all of the medication is utilized. You can utilize a nose-clip so that you breathe in the medication only through the mouth.
6. The length of the treatment varies depending on the size of the dose, the medication being inhaled and the type of equipment used.
7. It is advised to wash and air dry the container used for holding the medication and the mouthpiece after using the nebulizer machine.


What medications can be used in a nebulizer?

Most commonly used drugs in a nebulizer are as follows:-
1. Albuterol, also called salbutamol and marketed under various brands such as ventolin and AccuNeb.
2. Ipratropium bromide is another bronchodilator agent, commonly prescribed for the treatment of COPD and asthma.
3. Budesonide is another bronchodilator, which is the only steroid that is given using a nebulizer machine.


How often do you use a nebulizer?

The number of times you use a nebulizer, the time interval between each use and the length of time for which you use the nebulizer depends upon the medical illness for which the nebulizer is being used. For instance, in case of asthma untreatable by inhalers, it is recommended to use a nebulizer machine every 4-6 hours for duration of 5-15 minutes each time. Hence, it is used to give medicine 3-4 times daily. Do not use more than the time prescribed by your physician to avoid undesirable effects.


How do you clean a nebulizer machine?

Mouthpiece masks and tubes may require general cleaning after each use. The compressor of your nebulizer contains filters which collect residue over time. It’s important that you clean them once in a while. Usually, it is advised to perform a thorough cleaning of your jet nebulizer once every month.

Change your compressor filters as directed in the manual. Also remember to clean the tubing by rinsing it, or even replace it if needed. Also rinse the mouthpiece and the medication cup with warm water for a few minutes. Afterwards, place it for air drying, or dry using sterilized cotton swabs if available. Vibrating Mesh Nebulizers are more delicate and will usually require a full cleaning at the end of the day. Check out this instructional video to learn more-


Is a nebulizer machine the same as an inhaler?

No, the two are very different devices in terms of their functionality, even though they both provide relief in various respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and related conditions. Inhalers are handheld pocket-sized devices that deliver the medication in the form of spray or fine dry powder, and do not require electrical supply to use it. Measured puff of medication is let out when patient presses the inhaler. A nebulizer machine on the other hand, is an electrical device that converts the drug into mist, which is then inhaled into the lungs. A mouthpiece or mask is ordinarily provided and this process usually takes about 5-15 minutes or sometimes longer, depending upon the severity of the patient’s condition.


Can an infant use a nebulizer machine?

Nebulizers can be safely and effectively used in babies. Using nebulizers in newborns is quite effective in providing immediate relief from difficulty in breathing caused as a result of stuffy nose or common cold. Nebulizers are used for conditions such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and croup in babies. It may also be used to treat other respiratory illnesses in infants. It is recommended to get your physician’s prescription and advice before using a nebulizer for your baby.


What is a nebulizer machine used for in adults?

A nebulizer is prescribed for treating numerous respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, bronchitis, COPD, cystic fibrosis and other lung conditions, which involves narrowing of air passages resulting in difficulty in breathing. Nebulizers are easy to use and very effective in delivering the medication to the lungs in these conditions.


How much does it cost to buy a nebulizer machine?

You need to obtain a nebulizer to keep one at home once you get the go ahead from your physician. Nebulizers differ in cost, ranging from around $50 and more, in addition to the cost of the parts and accessories. You should also consider buying extra parts. Portable nebulizers are battery-operated and cost more than compressor nebulizers. Check with your health insurance policy before purchasing or renting a nebulizer, since most insurance companies will cover it and some may even pay for portable more expensive devices.