People who suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) don’t always find breathing easy. During an asthma attack or a coughing fit, inhaling oxygen is harder because passageways to the lungs are obstructed.
Fortunately, inhaled medication can make things easier and can quickly improve breathing. People who suffer from asthma and COPD are usually taking inhaled medication to manage their symptoms. Inhalers and nebulizers are familiar to COPD patients and asthma sufferers.
But what is the difference between the two and is one better than the other?
Lung conditions like asthma and COPD are treated with nebulizers and inhalers. They are used to quickly deliver medication to the lungs. Inhaled medication can help asthma sufferers and COPD patients breathe more easily by opening their airways. Inhaled medication is preferred for these types of patients because direct delivery to the lungs speeds up the process compared to oral administration.
Using a nebulizer or inhaler can also prevent and help you manage asthma and COPD symptoms better. For example, regular use can help prevent asthma attacks and using an inhaler everyday can help COPD patients breathe easier and avoid flare-ups.
Nebulizers can be electric or battery powered. It turns liquid medicine into a fine mist. A tube is connected to a mouthpiece or mask that delivers the mist to the patient for inhalation.
Nebulizer Australia is very easy to use. Patients just breathe in the medicine using the mouthpiece or mask. However, using a nebulizer to deliver medicine to the lungs can take 10-20 minutes, sometimes longer. Electric nebulizers can be bulky and noisy to operate. Fortunately, there are portable nebuliser options that are small, portable and convenient to use on the go.
There are basically 2 types of inhalers: Metered dose inhalers (MDI) are the most commonly used and dry powder inhalers.
MDIs are small devices that deliver a puff of medicine. They work just like aerosol cans. Dry powder inhalers on the other hand deliver the medicine in powder form. A person that uses this type of inhaler sucks the powder through their mouth by breathing in quickly and deeply.
Both of these devices are small, very portable and can be carried in a purse, bag or backpack.
COPD and asthma can be managed through medication inhaled via nebulizer or inhaler. Most people with asthma or COPD can use either or both as directed by their healthcare provider.
Compared to nebulizers, inhalers are usually more practical due to their small size and affordability. However, inhalers can be tricky to use for first-timers and young children, so a nebulizer is a good option. Kids or people who have difficulty using an inhaler can use a spacer on some inhaler types so that they can receive the correct dosage every time.
It can be a tough choice when choosing between a nebulizer and an inhaler. It is better to seek advice from your healthcare professional so that they can direct the correct form of treatment and management for your asthma or COPD.
There is some debate among professionals whether it is better to use a nebulizer to treat asthma. In studies comparing nebulizers and inhalers, children were usually the subjects mainly because they used nebulizers more frequently than older children and adults.
A nebulizer and an inhaler with a spacer were tested in one study. Children as young as 2 who had breathing problems visited the emergency room were included as participants. According to the results, inhalers with spacers were equally effective as nebulizers.
Generally speaking, adults and children are usually prescribed inhalers more frequently to treat their asthma because it is a more convenient option with more medication types available.
COPD patients can be prescribed inhalers and nebulizers to manage their symptoms. However, most COPD patients use inhalers for the same reason as above: convenience and more medication options.
However, there are COPD patients who will find it easier to use a nebulizer compared to an inhaler. COPD patients with arthritis, have difficulty using an inhaler, or the elderly will find nebulisers easier to use.
Let’s summarize nebulizers vs inhalers:
Easier to use
Pediatric nebulizers are available for young children
Can be used while doing other things
Long lasting and durable device
Portable nebulizers are still larger than inhalers
Needs cleaning after every use
Treatment sessions are longer
More medication options available
Faster relief during asthma attacks or coughing fits
Does not require batteries or electricity to operate
Disposable and not eco-friendly
Difficulty in mastering use
Kids will need spacers for effective delivery of medicine
You need to correctly aim and use the mouthpiece
Both nebulizers and inhalers can deliver needed relief to asthma sufferers and COPD patients. Your healthcare provider will be able to direct you whether you need to use an inhaler, nebulizer or both.
However, it is best to remember that you need to correctly know how to use either of these devices in order to enjoy effective relief from your symptoms. Patients should also know when to use the devices. For example, your physician can instruct you to use it mornings, evenings or before any physical activity.
Having difficulty in breathing is dangerous so make sure that you monitor the amount of medicine you have on hand. Most importantly, you should always use the correct dosage. If you are confused or have concerns, your healthcare provider will be able to address these issues.