Many respiratory diseases and illnesses can be managed or treated through the use of a medical device called a nebulizer. It is far more suitable than other forms of ingested medicines because it targets the respiratory area directly, reducing a range of symptoms and inflammation. There are many considerations when using a nebulizer. It is important to know which type is best to use, the method of use, and ways to keep it clean and stored for maximum safety and effectiveness. Nebulizers are commonly used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases or disorders.

Overview of Nebulizers:

Overview of Nebulizer Systems Nebulizers 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 vaporized water particles mix with hot ambient air, then cool down and condense into a fine cloud of visible airborne water droplets.

When using a nebulizer for inhalation therapy with medication to be administered directly to the lungs, it is important to note that inhaled aerosol droplets can only penetrate into the narrow branches of the lower airways if they have a small diameter of 1–5 micrometers. Otherwise they are only absorbed by the mouth cavity, where the effect is low.

What is a Nebulizer?

A nebulizer is a portable medical device used to deliver medication to the respiratory tract and lungs. It does so in the form of mist. Oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic power create aerosol droplets from the medication, and the user then inhales this into the lungs. Often this involves wearing a mask. Both children and adults can use nebulizers, and are prescribed in many sizes. Nebulized therapy can also be known as "breathing treatment.”

Nebulizer Uses:

Nebulizers are ordinarily used for the treatment of a range of respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD. Medications are inhaled straight into the lungs for effective treatment. The reason they are inhaled rather than ingested is so that the medication can target the respiratory tract directly. This speeds up treatment and has fewer side effects in comparison to other alternative intake routes. The medication depends on the illness it is treating although commonly it reduces inflammation, swelling, and mucus within the airways.

Types of Nebulizers:

There are several types of nebulizers. The soft mist inhaler provides a metered dose to the user. The bottom of the inhaler is manually rotated clockwise to build up tension into a spring around the liquid container. The energy released from this process creates pressure on the flexible liquid container, which causes liquid to be sprayed out of the two nozzles producing mist. This particular device has no gas propellant and no need for a battery or a power outlet to operate. The human-powered nebulizers are useful for people with limited access to electricity.

The Vibrating Mesh Technology Nebulizer (VMT) has 1000-7000 laser drilled holes that vibrate at the top of the liquid storage and therefore create a mist through these holes. This is typically a quicker treatment method. An ‘atomizer’, also known as a Jet nebulizer, is the most commonly used nebulizer. These are connected by tubing to a compressor that generates a high-velocity flow of compressed air or oxygen through a liquid medicine, thus turning it into an aerosol.

Finally, there are the ultrasonic wave nebulizers. These involve an electronic oscillator that generates a high-frequency ultrasonic wave which produces a mechanical vibration of a piezoelectric element. This comes into contact with the liquid reservoir and, as a result, a vapor is produced by its high-frequency vibration.

How to Use a Nebulizer:

How to use a nebulizer can depend on the illness it is designed to treat. Typically, an electronic nebulizer first needs to be plugged into a three socket plug. The liquid medication must then be measured and carefully poured into the nebulizer cup. The nebulizer cup and mouthpiece are then joined. The compressor should be tested before use to ensure the mist is being created. In an upright position, the user should then either place the mouthpiece in their mouth or place the mask over their face. Each breath taken in should be 2-3 seconds long to ensure the mist fills the lungs. This should be continued until the full individual dose of medication has been used.

Nebulizer Maintenance:

It is important to keep a nebulizer clean. After use, the cup should be rinsed in warm water and allowed to air dry. Every three applications, the device, can be cleaned with a vinegar water solution, or with a particular disinfectant product recommended for the individual nebulizer. This cleaning process should allow for 20 minutes of soaking the device in water for best results. To store the nebulizer when it's not in use, cover the compressor with a clean cloth. The medication itself should be kept in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children.

The primary purpose of nebulizers is to treat certain respiratory illnesses and diseases through the use of compressed liquid medication. They have enabled more direct treatment of diseases of this type, and there are several different types which can be considered depending on where and how they will be used. After choosing a nebulizer, keeping it clean and stored correctly is important to maintain its safety and effectiveness. With the proper adherence to guidelines for use, nebulizers can be a helpful treatment for those patients suffering from lung and respiratory illnesses.

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