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Different types of nebuliser: nozzle, membrane and ultrasonic nebulisers

Updated: December 2018

 

Have you been recommended to use a nebuliser to relieve your respiratory symptoms? Inhalation devices, often called nebulisers, are available in various different technical designs.

Mechanically speaking, they mix droplets of the medication’s active ingredient with the air. The fine mist resulting in the nebuliser can be inhaled through a mouthpiece, mask or nosepiece. A major advantage is that there is no need for particular coordination between the operation of the nebuliser and the breathing technique. That is why nebulisers are especially recommended for children and elderly people.

Nozzle, mesh and ultrasonic nebulisers

Nebulisers can be divided into three types according to their functional principle: Nozzle (compressor), membrane and ultrasonic nebulisers.

The nozzle nebuliser works by means of a compressor that generates compressed air. The air flows through the medicine solution and atomises it into tiny droplets.

Ultrasonic nebulisers use a piezo-electric vibrator that generates high frequency vibrations (2-3 millions/ sec). the vibrations are transferred through the water tank to the medication (water serves as a cooling agent). The strong vibrations generate a column of liquid medication and small particles are produced.

Mesh nebulisers are made up of a thin membrane which contains microscopic holes. A vibrating element pushes the medication through the fine holes of the membrane. This generates an aerosol of small droplets. These nebulisers are also very quiet and lightweight, making them good for use when travelling and for children.

How to inhale correctly when using a nebuliser

A step-by-step guide to using the nebuliser:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Ensure that the nebuliser has been cleaned correctly since the last time it was used.
  3. Connect the tube to the device (not applicable for a mesh nebuliser).
  4. Fill the medicine reservoir with the medication you have been prescribed.
  5. Connect the tubing and mouthpiece to the medicine reservoir.
  6. Insert the mouthpiece into your mouth. Hold the mouthpiece firmly with your lips closed around it so that all of the active ingredient is able to reach your lungs.
  7. Switch the nebuliser on.
  8. Breathe through the mouth until all of the medication has been administered. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. If necessary, you can use a nose clip to ensure that you only breathe through your mouth.
  9. For young children, a mask can be used instead of the mouthpiece. It is necessary to ensure that the mask is fitted very accurately as otherwise much of the medication can be lost and the inhalation is not effective.
  10. Switch the nebuliser off.
  11. Clean the medicine reservoir and the mouthpiece/mask according to the cleaning and disinfecting instructions in the manual which comes with the product.

References:

Almond, S. How do children with asthma inhale properly? Retrieved from https://www.kinder-asthma.com/wie-inhalieren-kinder-mit-asthma-richtig/

Richtig Inhalieren (2018). Types of inhalers with explanation of how it works. Retrieved from https://www.richtig-inhalieren.de/ratgeber-inhalieren/arten-von-inhalatoren-mit-erklaerung-funktionsweise