Nebulizers – Facts, Maintenance, and Safety Information

A nebulizer is a compressor or pump that is used to administer inhalation medicine. A typical nebulizer is sold as a kit, including a nebulizer compressor, nebulizer cup, mouthpiece and a seven foot hose. A common prescription for nebulizer machine inhalation medicine is four times a day or every six hours depending on your condition and your doctors orders.

Nebulizers use air pressure (room air) created by the compressor which is forced through a seven foot hose and into the nebulizer cup which is also referred to as the nebulizer mouthpiece. The compressor pushes air into the nebulizer cup which causes a small disc to vibrate at a rapid pace which turns the medicine into an aerosol. When the medicine is in the nebulizer cup is turned into an aerosol by the pressure and then can be inhaled. Research has shown that some medications have a lot quicker response in the patient when inhaled versus by pill form.

Taking a nebulizer treatment can take about 7-10 minutes depending on how much medicine is in the cup and how strong the compressor is. Nebulizer compressors push 14 liters per minute at 27-35 pounds of pressure (psi). The amount of air that is pushed through the hose is not as important as the amount of pressure. When purchasing a nebulizer machine you should consider the amount of pressure the machine will produce. The more pressure the nebulizer machine will produce the quicker the medication is dispensed which will shorten your treatment time. The other factor when trying to reduce your treatment time is in the nebulizer mouthpiece.

Nebulizer mouthpieces can look very different depending on the manufacturer; the most efficient mouthpiece is a Sidestream Nebulizer. This nebulizer uses a small exhalation port, the exhalation port is the part of the mouthpiece where the patient will exhale (breathe out). The advantage of using a nebulizer with a small exhalation port is that it creates back pressure; back pressure causes your esophagus to expand and allows you to inhale more medication faster.

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