Nebulizer A-Z

Definition & Types

WHAT IS A NEBULISER?

A nebuliser is an electronic device that converts liquid medication into a fine aerosol or mist so that it can be delivered to the lungs.

There are various mechanisms by which the liquid medicine can be aerosolised. Depending on these mechanisms, the nebulisers are categorised into various types (elaborated below).

TYPES OF NEBULISERS​

Mechanism:
Jet nebulisers use pressurised gas/air to draw the liquid medication from the nebuliser cup through a thin capillary. The pressurised air or gas is provided by the compressor. The liquid medication is converted into an aerosol or mist comprising small and large particles. Smaller particles are inhaled, whilethe larger particles hit the inside wall of the medication cup and enter back into the medication cup/chamber.

Advantages:

  • Any type of liquid medicinecan be nebulised
  • Jet nebulisers are less expensive.

Limitations:

  • Less portable.
  • Assembling the nebuliser can be difficult for some patients who suffer from physical and cognitive impairment.
  • Aerosol output is not consistent.

Mechanism:
Mesh nebulisers use a mesh or aperture plate to generate the aerosol or mist.

Advantages:

  • Has improved and consistent aerosol-generating efficiency as compared to jet nebulisers.
  • Nebulisation can be achieved using a low medication volume as compared to jet nebulisers.
  • Small size, lightweight, and battery-operated system makes it easily portable and handy.

Limitations:

  • Most mesh nebulisers cannot be used to deliversuspensions (these do not flow easily and, so, can clog the mesh pores).
  • Can be difficult to clean.
  • More expensive than jet nebulisers.

Mechanism:
Ultrasonic nebulisers use high-frequency vibrations generated by a piezoelectric crystal to produce the aerosol.

Advantages:

  • Used to deliver inhaled medicines and saline for sputum induction (a procedure to collect respiratory secretions).

Limitations:

  • Cannot be used to deliver viscous solutions or suspensions.
  • Has a large residual volume (leftover medicine that cannot be nebulised, resulting in medicine wastage).
  • Generates heat when in use; hence, not suitable for heat-sensitive material such as proteins and suspensions.

Mechanism:
Smart nebulisers have an inbuilt automatic sensor that senses your breathing and determines when the aerosol should be delivered. Some smart nebulisers also keep a log of the usage, which helps in patient adherence to therapy.

Advantages:

  • Reduces loss of medication into the surroundings.
  • Reduces variability in medicine delivery.
  • Improves patient adherence to the treatment regimen.
  • Better control over the delivery of expensive medicines (such as proteins).

Limitations:

  • More expensive than other nebulisers.

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