Nebulizers: All You Need To Know

Nebulizers are becoming the preferred choice of treatment by doctors in treating asthma and allergic cough and cold. It turns medicine into mist and as you breathe, it goes straight into your lungs.

By Monali Bordoloi  • 6 min read

Nebulizers: All You Need To Know

Pinky Baruah loves mountains! She eagerly waits for the annual family vacation, this time it is destination Himachal Pradesh. Her family of four sets off with great enthusiasm to embrace the cool mountain climate. 

But their ordeal starts from the day they land in Himachal. Her younger daughter, 12-year-old Pahi, is unable to withstand the cold and starts having bouts of breathlessness along with severe wheezing at nights. After two sleepless nights, they decide to abandon their vacation and return home. Following doctor’s advice, Pinky now packs a nebulizer first whenever she plans to go to any cooler climate with her daughters.

People are increasingly using nebulizers in treating asthma-like conditions in kids. It is one of the most effective ways of treatment in small kids as the machine delivers the medicine in the child’s airways in the form of mist. If severe cold leads to chest congestion and breathing problem, nebulization can give quick relief. It is safe to use for infants too.

Used widely in treating asthma, nebulizers can also be used for conditions like allergic cough and cold, emphysema, sinusitis, bronchitis, and more.

What is a nebulizer?

Nebulizer is a medical device which delivers liquid medications to the body through the lungs. It turns liquid medicines into fine droplets thereby creating a mist. Then these medicines can be breathed into the lungs through a mouthpiece or mask attached to the device.

According to Dr Rajkumar Kulasekaran, a leading pulmonologist from Apollo hospital, Chennai, “Nebulizer are very effective in treating asthma, all age groups can use it.”

Dr Rajkumar adds, “If your child has incessant coughs and is complaining of chest tightness and feeling restless, you can opt for a nebulizer to impart the medicine, of course, after consulting your paediatrician.”

How to use a nebulizer?

The nebulizer machine has three parts: the device, a medical dispenser (or a rota cup) and a face mask and a tube. The exact prescribed amount of medicine is filled in the rota cup and connected with the face mask and the device. The face mask should fit in the child’s face.

When the child breathes in the mask, the medicine in mist form will reach the airways. It is important that the child sits comfortably for 10-15 minutes or till all the medicines in Rota cup is dispensed.

How often can one use a nebulizer?

Dr Rajkumar says, “Nebulization helps in opening up the inflamed airways of the child, which help them in breathing easily. However, restrict its use to the recommended time your doctor prescribed.”

Can it treat allergies and common cold and flu symptoms?

If you are suffering from common cold and allergies, nebulization with saline water will also help in reducing the symptoms.

What are the side effects of a nebulizer?

As such, there are no side-effects of using a nebulizer. However, one should rinse mouth with plain water after using a nebulizer. Alternatively, kids can gurgle their mouth with salt water after using a nebulizer.

Difference between nebulizers and inhalers

The basic purpose of both inhalers and nebulizers are same, to convert the medicine into mist form and with breathing, it goes to lungs.

Between the two, nebulizer has a slight advantage as it can be used safely for above seventy patients and for infants too.

Nebulizers: All You Need To Know

Both battery-operated and electrical nebulizers are available in the market. The nebulizer machine could be shared by many people; however, it is advisable not to share the facial masks.

With inputs from Dr Rajkumar, MBBS, DNB (Respiratory Diseases) FCCP(USA,) pulmonologist, Apollo Specialty Hospitals O M R, Chennai

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