Nebulizers are nothing new! The New to Asthma website reports that nebulizers were first invented in 1858 by a French scientist named Sales-Girons. Since that time, they have undergone many transformations and have become portable, easy-to-use devices that are so important for helping chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) patients control their breathing problems and maintain their active lifestyle.
Here's what a COPD patient should know about portable nebulizers.
What is a Portable Nebulizer?
The New to Asthma site also reports that a portable nebulizer is a device that works to transform life-saving medications like albuterol into an mist that a COPD patient breathes in. Nebulizers are a mainstay of COPD treatment because they deliver the medication in its aerosol form directly to the lungs to help control respiratory difficulties.
There are a wide variety of COPD medications that can be nebulized, according to Healthline. This includes bronchodilators to open air passageways, steroids to reduce inflammation and antibiotics to treat respiratory infections. In fact, some COPD drugs like metaproterenol can only be given via nebulizers.
How Does a Portable Nebulizer Work?
According to the Allergy and Asthma Network, nebulizers work in several different ways depending on the type. Currently there are three main kinds of nebulizers: compressor nebulizers, vibrating mesh nebulizers, and ultrasonic nebulizers. Compressor devices are powered by compressed air, while mesh devices use vibration and ultrasonic devices use sound waves to function. No matter what the type of nebulizer used, however, the end result is the same: liquid medication is transformed into an aerosol and breathed into the lungs.
Live Strong notes that the aerosolized medication is breathed in through a mask or a mouthpiece. One of the main benefits of this delivery is that the medicine begins to work faster in this form. For example, when albuterol is nebulized, it begins to work in around 5 minutes.
Is it Easy to Use?
One of the biggest benefits of a portable nebulizer is how easy it is to use. Live Strong reports that unlike traditional inhalers (which require patients to breathe in deeply and hold the medication in before exhaling), nebulizers allow patients to breathe normally while the medication is being administered. This ease of use makes it ideal even for very weak patients to use. It is also fairly quick to use, taking between 5 and 10 minutes for a full dose of medication to be delivered.
Can I Use it on the Go?
As any COPD patient knows, this respiratory condition can make travel seem more difficult. The Safe Treatments for Asthma site notes that this is partly because exposure to new or unknown triggers while travelling can easily cause an exacerbation. However, use of a portable nebulizer while travelling helps to keep symptoms under control and can allow for easier, safer travel.
The Allergy and Asthma Network also notes that vibrating mesh nebulizers in particular are an attractive option for travelling COPD patients. They offer both a fairly rapid means of medication delivery and their system is very quiet; this makes it possible for people to use them in restaurants or other public places without drawing a lot of unwanted attention. There are also many options for travelers in regards to the needed power source: different nebulizer models can be plugged in or use rechargeable or replaceable batteries.
In short, portable nebulizers are ideal for COPD patients to manage their respiratory symptoms while still maintaining an active lifestyle. The fact that they can deliver medication right to the lungs, where it is needed most, combined with their ease of use and portability make them an ideal choice for patients on the go.