Some information we hope you will find useful
A Nebulizer is a device used to administer a group of prescription drugs required by patients with medium to severe respiratory illness. These drugs need to be inhaled deep into the lungs and a Nebulizer is the only practical way this can be achieved.
The drugs (bronchodilators, corticosteroids and antibiotics) are supplied in liquid form and the job of the Nebuliser is to turn them into a fine mist that can be inhaled.
There are two basic types:
The most common type operates by forcing compressed air through a tiny hole, about the size of a pin prick, built into the centre of a small chamber into which a measured amount of the liquid drug is placed. The action of the air escaping through the hole causes the drug to vapourise into a very fine mist. Under slight pressure this mist escapes from the chamber through a mouthpiece or face mask to then be inhaled by the patient. Although we tend to refer to the whole device as being the Nebulizer, technically the drug chamber itself is the Nebulizer, the body of the machine is the compressor and they are connected together by an airline.
Compressor based machines are generally reliable. They all produce a level of noise although some are noisier than others.
Here in the UK we have a good choice of manufacturers, Philips Respironics, Clement Clarke, Flaem Nouva and Devilbiss being the manufacturers most frequently favoured and trusted by our NHS hospitals and Clinics. We have chosen to offer our customers the most popular units from the ranges of these top manufactuers.
The efficiency of a Nebulizer is partly determined by the volume of air produced by the compressor and its working pressure and partly by the design of the Drug Chamber. The combination of the Drug Chamber design, the working air pressure and air flow rate determines the overall specification of the device. This is usually expressed as airflow, the typical particle size of the mist produced and the volume of liquid it can dispense in a given time, usually one minute.
With some Nebulizers the compressors are designed so that they can be run continuously. These are mostly used by hospitals and nursing homes. Most, however, are designed to run for short periods of time with a rest period in between uses to prevent the compressor motor overheating. If it's description doesn't specify "rated for continual use" you should assume otherwise.
Most modern compressor machines do not require "return to base" servicing. Take care if you have one that does require this servicing as, if you're not careful, the service could cost as much as a replacement!
All of them, however, do require regular "health and hygiene" maintenance. This includes the replacement of external air filters every three months and the replacement of the tubing, Drug Chamber, Masks etc about every six months. Above all the entire equipment needs to be kept scrupulously clean. The replacement parts needed for your home servicing are usually available as a "service kit" as reasonable cost.
The alternative to using compressed air is a machine that uses Ultrasound to dispense the drug. Whilst there are various designs the principle used is the same. These machines work by vibrating the liquid drug at such a high frequency that it turns into a fine mist. A good quality Ultrasonic machine will produce a mist with particles smaller than any compressor type can match. In addition they typically dispense the drug quicker and they make very little noise if any at all. On this basis Ultrasonic machines appear to be better and quicker than any compressor based alternative. In theory this may be true but in practise this rarely the case. Whilst Compressor Nebulizers are generally very reliable Ultrasonic Nebulisers are notoriously unreliable.