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Nebuliser vs Inhaler - The Difference Explained

If you suffer from a chronic respiratory condition such as Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and take medication to reduce the flare ups, it’s crucial that the medication gets administered into your lungs effectively.

Nebulisers and inhalers are both designed to deliver medication directly into the lungs, but which is the right device for you?

 What is a Nebuliser?

A nebuliser is a machine that changes liquid medication into a vapour so it can be inhaled through a mask or a mouthpiece. The medication in a nebuliser flows continuously so you can breathe normally during the treatment.

A nebuliser delivers a full dose of medication in 10-20 minutes. It is best suited for infants, elderly or disabled individuals suffering from chronic respiratory conditions.

What is an Inhaler?

Inhalers are portable, handheld devices that are available in two types:

  1. Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) which are most commonly used. These devices deliver a pre-measured spray of medication. Patients that use MDIs may also attach a spacer to the device to make it easier to use. A spacer is a holding chamber for the medicine which delivers the medication into the lungs more efficiently. Spacers are often used by children as its much easier to inhale the medication this way. Spacers also make inhalers more effective. Sometimes with an MDI, the medicine will reach the back of the throat but not get down into the lower airways. A spacer helps to deliver the medicine into the lower airways, which is where it needs to work properly.
  2. Dry Powder Inhalers deliver medicine in powder form, but they don’t spray out. The user must do more of the work, inhaling the powdered medicine quickly and quite forcefully.

Please seek the advise of a healthcare professional before using either device.

What is a Chronic Respiratory Condition?

Two of the most common chronic respiratory conditions are Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

They both cause inflammation and narrowing in the airways. Narrowed airways cause chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Some of the COPD and asthma symptoms are breathlessness, coughing, chest pain, fatigue shortness of breath after physical activity.


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