Are nebulisers better than inhalers for asthma patients


Statistics have shown that approximately 400 million people are affected by asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across the globe and most of these patients require either reliever or disease controlling medications in the form of inhalation. Thus, manufacturers have been exploring and inventing new technologies on inhalers and nebulizers to stand out in this vast sea of demand. As a consequence, debates circling the efficacy and superiority of the devices have been going on for decades. Along with the heightened awareness of environmental care and infection control, manufacturers have been modifying their products with stricter regulations from the FDA to provide optimum benefits and convenience to their users. Users can always consult to doctor online to learn about all these devices.

Nebulizer used to be found only in hospitals as it is pressure-driven, requiring equipment such as face mask and also precise mixing and dilution of medications. It is commonly used to administer Salbutamol or Ipratropium bromide to relieve asthmatic or COPD attack when the reliever inhaler puff does not help. No special techniques are required when using the nebulizer as the patients just need to breath in with a face mask or nasal prong, the pressure will do its job to deliver the inhaled medications. So, users need to clean the used equipment frequently to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

As time passes, portable nebulizers are invented with premixed medications and dilutions such as handheld ultrasonic nebulizers. However, good things come at a higher price as traditional nebulizers are more expensive than inhalers, what more a portable one. In addition, not all the medications are compatible to be used with nebulizers, for example, budesonide for long term control of asthma and COPD cannot be used with nebulizers. Another concern about the portable nebulizers is that it cannot provide enough pressure like the hospital-used nebulizers so the beneficial effect may be suboptimal.

Inhalers come in 3 main forms which are metered-dose inhaler (hydrofluoroalkane inhaler), dry powder inhaler and soft mist inhaler. They are cheaper than nebulizers and comes with pocket size, so they can be used at any place and any time. Medications used with inhalers usually come in the premixed form and more long term medication such as budesonide is compatible with inhalers. Furthermore, the FDA has been closely monitoring the production of inhalers to ensure that they are environmentally friendly by strictly allow only CFC-free inhalers. Users have to comply with proper technique while using the inhaler to obtain the maximum benefit. However, studies have shown that only 5% of the users demonstrate the technique perfectly, and this is mainly due to the lack of proper education from medical professionals. This problem is more prevalent in the children as they are unable to understand or follow the technique which has been taught to them.

In conclusion, there is no winner to this debate as the suitability of devices is decided on the factors such as patient’s age, disease severity and availability of facilities. Remember to always consult your doctor and learn more about the details before you purchase any of these devices, so you can control your disease progression with the most suitable device for yourself.

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