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Nebulizers: Definition, Types, Uses, and Cleaning

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Nebulization is the process of medication administration via inhalation. It utilizes a nebulizer which transports medications to the lungs by means of mist inhalation.

There is a huge market for different types of nebulizers and each of them have some unique features although they all function in a similar way. Here are the two basic types of nebulizers available in the market:

STATIONARY NEBULISER – these are the nebulizers that are sturdy, rest on top of the table and they can provide durability as most of them come with a longer warranty period. They are cheaper than the mobile nebulizers and serve as a good aid for usage for children or elderly patients. Stationery nebulizers are mostly for indoor use only and are seldom used outdoors.

MOBILE NEBULISER – these nebulizers provide most mobility as they can be hand held and carried with the patient wherever they go. They have alternative power sources like batteries or auto adapters which enable them with usage at areas where there is no or limited access to AC power. Since they are mobile in nature, these nebulizers are lighter than the stationery ones and also smaller in size.


ULTRASONIC NEBULISER – Ultrasonic nebulizers deliver the medicine through high frequency vibrations in order to change the liquid medication into a mist to inhale and feel relaxed.

The fine mist is inhaled through an attached mask or the mouthpiece as the ultrasonic nebulizers doesn’t condense air, they function quietly and are small in size to fit into any container to begin the function. Being portable, compact and battery operated, they work fast when compared to other nebulizers and utilize the ultrasonic waves to aerosolize the liquid medication.

JET NEBULISER – A jet nebulizer is a machine which changes the prescribed liquid medicine into a fine mist to let the child or the patient breathes in through the mouthpiece or the face mask. It delivers the medicine directly to the inhaler’s lungs, making it easy to use.

These are less expensive and are usually in the form of a plastic cup which holds the medication and allows the air pass through the tube with the help of the compressor. Basically, jet nebulizers require electricity, frequently to function which is not advised safe to carry or depend on during travel. It produces loud sound and offers a range of particle sizes to change a liquid into a mist.

MESH NEBULISER – A Mesh Nebulizer is considered as the fastest working device and is more expensive when compared to the other nebulizers. It operates on a battery power supply and is quiet, efficient and well suits to the aerosolize solutions. It generates the mono-disperse aerosol particles of 4.5 to 5µm. It utilizes a vibrating membrane to generate the aerosol mist from the medication.

Available in a compact and portable body, it is perfect to carry while travelling and use in case of need. Besides this, Mesh nebulizer requires proper care, careful handling and intense cleaning as the membrane is more prone to get blocked and requires replacement many times in a year for proper function of inhalation process.


Nebulization therapy is used to deliver medications along the respiratory tract and is indicated to various respiratory problems and diseases such as:
• Broncho-spasms
• Chest tightness
• Excessive and thick mucus secretions
• Respiratory congestions
• Pneumonia

In some cases, nebulization is restricted or avoided due to possible untoward results or rather decreased effectiveness such as:
• Patients with unstable and increased blood pressure
• Individuals with cardiac irritability (may result to dysrhythmias)
• Persons with increased pulses
• Unconscious patients (inhalation may be done via mask but the therapeutic effect may be significantly low

• Nebulizer and nebulizer connecting tubes
• Compressor oxygen tank
• Mouthpies, Respiratory medication to be administered
• Normal saline solution


1. Position the patient appropriately, allowing optimal ventilation.

2. Assess and record breath sounds, respiratory status, pulse rate and other significant respiratory functions.

3. Teach patient the proper way of inhalation:

• Slow inhalation through the mouth via the mouthpiece
• Short pause after the inspiration
• Slow and complete exhalation
Some resting breaths before another deep inhalation.

4. Prepare equipments at hand

5. Check doctor’s orders for the medication, prepare thereafter
6. Place the medication in the nebulizer while adding the amount of saline solution ordered
7. Attach the nebulizer to the compressed gas source
8. Attach the connecting tubes and mouthpiece to the nebulizer
9. Turn the machine on (notice the mist produced by the nebulizer)
10. Offer the nebulizer to the patient, offer assistance until he is able to perform proper inhalation (if unable to hold the nebulizer [pediatric/geriatric/special cases], replace the mouthpiece with mask.


Possible effects and reactions after nebulization therapy are as follows:
• Palpitations
• Tremors
• Tachycardia
• Headache
• Nausea
• Broncho-spasms (too mu

NEBULISERch ventilation may result or exacerbate Broncho-spasms)

As nurses, it is important that we teach the patients the proper way of doing the therapy to facilitate effective results and prevent complications (demonstration is very useful). Emphasize compliance to therapy and to report untoward symptoms immediately for apposite intervention.

Auscultatory gap is the temporary disappearance of sounds normally heard over the brachial artery when the cuff pressure is high and the reappearance of the sounds at a lower level.

Provide excellent clues to the physiological functioning of the body.
• Alterations in body flexion are reflected in the body temp, pulse, respirations and blood pressure.
• These data provide part of the baseline info from which plan of care is developed.
• Any change from normal is considered to be an indication of the person’s state of health.

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