A complete guide to home nebulizer therapy
In this article, we look at the benefits and uses of home nebulizer therapy and explain how to use and clean the equipment.
What is home nebulizer therapy?
A doctor may prescribe home nebulizer therapy for COPD, cystic fibrosis, or asthma.
Home nebulizer therapy works by transforming a dose of medication from a liquid form to a mist, which the person then inhales.
Doctors prescribe home nebulizer therapy for a variety of health issues, but primarily for problems affecting the lungs, such as:
Currently, there are two basic types of nebulizer:
- The jet nebulizer uses compressed air to turn medication into a mist.
- The ultrasonic nebulizer achieves the same outcome by using ultrasonic vibrations.
Medication labels may specify the best nebulizer for their particular formulation. Some manufacturers offer nebulizers specifically for children.
Home nebulizer therapy does not require the person to coordinate their breathing with the machine, which makes it easier to use than other devices, such as inhalers. For this reason, doctors often recommend nebulizers for people who may have difficulty using inhalers, such as children, older adults, and people on ventilators.
In addition, home nebulizer therapy delivers medication more deeply into the lungs than some people can manage on their own.
Home nebulizer therapy delivers medication right to the lungs, where it is most necessary and can do the most good. As a result, this kind of treatment works more quickly and gets better results with smaller doses than pills or shots.
However, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care, the lungs can only absorb 10–15% of the medication that they receive, which makes it particularly important for people to use their nebulizers properly.
People can use nebulizers with many different types of medication. They can even deliver more than one type at a time.
As nebulizers often require smaller doses of medication to be effective, home nebulizer therapy may lead to fewer undesirable side effects than other forms of therapy.
A home nebulizer therapy session typically lasts for 15–25 minutes.
How to use a home nebulizer
Home nebulizer therapy can be an effective way to treat health problems, particularly those affecting the lungs, but people need to use their nebulizers properly to achieve the desired results.
The essential components of a home nebulizer therapy system include:
- the medication
- a medicine cup
- a top piece
- a compressor, which runs on electricity or, when away from home, batteries or a car adaptor
- a face mask or mouthpiece
The basic steps for using a home nebulizer are as follows:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Place the correct dose of medication in the nebulizer medicine cup and dilute it according to a doctor's instructions if necessary.
- Place the top piece on the medicine cup.
- Fit the face mask into place or insert the mouthpiece into your mouth.
- Connect one end of the tubing to the air compressor and the other end to the medicine cup.
- Put the mouthpiece in between your teeth and close your lips around it, or fit the face mask to the face, using the strap to hold it in place.
- Turn on the compressor.
- Breathe normally. If using a mouthpiece, keep the nebulizer upright. You do not need to hold your breath after inhaling the medication.
- Keep breathing normally until no medication remains in the cup.
- Finally, take the system apart for cleaning. Throw out any remaining liquid.
Cleaning the equipment
A person should ensure that all the equipment is clean before using a nebulizer.
Proper cleaning is important for home nebulizer therapy because if the equipment is not clean, people may breathe in germs the next time they use it.
Carefully follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions, which generally involve the following steps:
- Disconnect all the parts of the home nebulizer therapy system.
- Wash the face mask or mouthpiece, top piece, and medicine cup with warm, soapy water.
- Let the pieces air-dry.
People can also wash the mouthpiece, top piece, and medicine cup in the top shelf of a dishwasher.
People should clean the equipment more thoroughly once a week. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, or soak the face mask or mouthpiece, top piece, and medicine cup in a mixture of white vinegar and water for 30 minutes. Rinse all of these pieces and let them air-dry.
Do not soak the compressor or the tubing in water. Instead, clean the outside of these pieces with a soapy cloth.
Air compressors typically have an air filter. People should replace these after the amount of time that the manufacturer's instructions specify.
Storing the equipment
Make sure that all the different components of a home nebulizer therapy system are dry, and then store them in a clean bag after each use.
Do not leave the unit assembled because this can increase the likelihood of the different pieces becoming contaminated.
Home nebulizer therapy is a convenient home treatment for a range of respiratory conditions, such as COPD and emphysema.
A person can get a home nebulizer from their doctor or ask them for advice about which one to buy. Home nebulizer equipment is also available to buy online.
Home nebulizers can be a very effective way of delivering medication, especially for people who have difficulty using inhalers. The key is to use this procedure properly. It is important to work with a doctor to determine the best type of nebulizer to use and how often to use it.
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