How Can Nebulizers Help Your Asthma?


Get to know and avoid your trigger factors; those that induce attacks, such as cigarette smoke, dust, pets, and other allergens. Being aware of these asthma attack triggers and avoiding them as best you can, can go along way towards controlling your symptoms.

Anyone who has asthma, or lives with someone who does, knows how frightening an attack can be. At that moment, when a life and death struggle seems to be going on before your eyes, you will try anything that helps. When you or your loved ones are experiencing severe asthma symptoms, a nebulizer can be a very helpful tool to getting your breathing back on track.

What is a Nebulizer?

The doctor or pediatrician will prescribe an asthma nebulizer, medications, dosages and frequency as needed. A nebulizer, or a breathing machine, alters asthma medication from liquid to mist form, by passing pressurized air through the breathing tube. This makes it easier for constricted lungs undergoing an asthma attack or respiratory infections, to inhale the medication.

This is also known as “breathing therapy.” Nebulizer therapy is particularly suited to infants and small children. Patients who are unable to use asthma inhalers with spacers also find nebulizers to be easier to use and more effective.

Nebulizers deliver the same medications as metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), or pocket-sized inhalers. They are easier to use than MDIs, especially for small children or adults with severe asthma who cannot take deep breaths.

How a Nebulizer Works

Nebulizers deliver short-acting (rescue) or long-acting (preventive maintenance) asthma medication to the lungs and airways. A combination of medications can be prescribed in the same treatment.

The nebulizer pack includes:

  • Mask or mouthpiece
  • Nebulizer cup
  • Compressor tubing
  • Medication (single dose vials or bottles with measurements)
  • Air compressor

The process:

  • The air compressor is placed on a stable surface, and plugged into a safe electrical outlet.
  • The medication vials are placed in the cup.
  • The nebulizer cup and mask or mouthpiece and tubing are assembled and connected to the compressor.
  • The mouthpiece is placed between the teeth, or the mask over the nose and mouth.
  • A light mist emanates from the back of the tube, opposite the mouthpiece.
  • The patient takes slow, deep breaths holding each for 2-3 seconds while the mist is absorbed into the lungs.
  • The process is continued until the medication is over – about 10 minutes.

Note: In case of dizziness or nervousness, the treatment should be suspended for about 5 minutes, and then continued, breathing more slowly. If the condition persists, the doctor should be notified immediately.

Portable nebulizers are like small hand-held home nebulizers. They run on battery power, and don’t need to be plugged in.

The cost of a home nebulizer varies from $200-250. Portable nebulizers cost a little more. Most health insurance companies cover them under the durable medical equipment provision, to be supplied by specified manufacturers or suppliers.

The equipment comes with detailed instructions for care, cleaning, usage and storing, which should be carefully followed.

Pros of Using Nebulizers

  • Easier to use especially during asthma attacks, as deep breathing is not required.
  • Combinations of multiple medications can be delivered simultaneously.
  • Easier for delivery of large doses of medication.
  • Easier to use with young children.
  • A good alternative to pumps and inhalers.
  • May reduce trips to the emergency room.

Cons of Using Nebulizers

  • Large nebulizers are difficult to transport.
  • They usually require a stationary power source.
  • Delivery of medication doses takes longer.
  • The treatment takes longer.
  • The machines are noisy.
  • May be more expensive.

To learn more about Nebulizers and how they can help your asthma, call Northwest Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine at 8154777350 to request an appointment at one of our locations in South Barrington or Crystal Lake, Illinois. You can also register an appointment online.

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