A nebulizer is a device used to administer medication as a mist inhaled into the lungs. They are commonly used to treat respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD. Medication is added to the machine as a liquid, and then changed into a mist in order to be inhaled. This method is preferable to ingestion or other delivery methods because it targets the respiratory tract directly. This speeds the onset of the medication and reduces some side effects.
Nebulizers use oxygen, compressed air, or ultrasonic power to break up the medications into small aerosol droplets. An aerosol is a mixture of gas and liquid particles, such as mist. To inhale a medication, it’s necessary for these aerosol droplets to be extremely small, or they will only be absorbed by the mouth rather than lower airways where they are needed. Unfortunately, not all nebulizers are able to achieve the small size necessary, so some research is warranted.