In medicine, a nebuliser is a drug delivery device used to administer medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs. It is often mistaken for the pump or compressor, but this only provides the power, the nebuliser or medicine chamber as is more commonly known is what does all the work and is the most important part of the equipment.
Nebulisers use oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic power to break up medical solutions and suspensions into small aerosol droplets that can be directly inhaled from the mouthpiece of the device. The definition of an aerosol is a “mixture of gas and liquid particles,” and the best example of a naturally occurring aerosol is mist, formed when small vaporised water particles mixed with hot ambient air are cooled down and condense into a fine cloud of visible airborne water droplets.
The most commonly used are called Jet nebulisers, which are connected by tubing to the compressor and causes compressed air or oxygen to flow at high velocity through a liquid medicine to turn it into an aerosol, which is then inhaled by the patient.
Nebulisers are commonly used for patients who have difficulty using inhalers, such as in serious cases of respiratory disease, or severe asthma attacks. Nebulisers accept their medicine in the form of a liquid solution, which is often loaded into the device upon use.
Corticosteroids and Bronchodilators are often used, and sometimes in a combination. The reason these pharmaceuticals are inhaled instead of ingested is in order to target their effect to the respiratory tract, which speeds onset of action of the medicine and reduces side effects, compared to other alternative intake routes.
Usually, the aerosolised medicine is inhaled through a tube-like mouthpiece, similar to that of an inhaler. The mouthpiece, however, is sometimes replaced with a face mask, similar to that used for inhaled anaesthesia, for ease of use with young children or the elderly. Paediatric masks are often shaped liked animals such as fish, dogs or dragons to make children less resistant to nebuliser treatments. Many nebuliser manufacturers also offer pacifier attachments for infants and toddlers. But mouthpieces are preferable if patients are able to use them since face-masks result in reduced lung delivery because of aerosol losses in the nose.
Compressors come in many forms, large small, powerful, mains, portable or even sonic, so therefore the cost comes in many forms too. Giving a compressor depends on many things i.e. the condition of the patient, how often it is needed, is more than one needed, what medication has to go through it, which is why a doctor should always decide if a nebuliser is necessary.