How to Choose a Home Nebulizer Machine

How to Choose a Home Nebulizer Machine

If you are an asthmatic patient or have another breathing condition, your doctor may advise that you use a nebulizer as treatment or breathing therapy. This device compresses air to convert liquid medication into a form (mist) that can be more easily inhaled into the lungs.

Home nebulizer systems are either powered by batteries or electricity. Some are designed for pediatric patients while others are specifically made for adults. Nebulizers use basically the same medications that are used in metered-dose inhalers, but they may be easier to use than inhalers.

How Do You Use a Nebulizer?

If your doctor determines that you need a nebulizer, they will write a prescription and tell you how often you need to use it. As for the machine, you should read the manual that comes with it.

The video below from the American Lung Association shows you how to use a nebulizer.

What You Should Consider When Buying a Home Nebulizer Machine

Size of the Nebulizer

This is one important feature that you should consider when buying a nebulizer. Pediatric nebulizers are designed differently from adult devices, although there are no mechanical differences between the models. In fact, a child can use an adult nebulizer and an adult can use a pediatric nebulizer as well.

Pediatric nebulizers are designed specifically to ease children’s fears and keep them entertained while they’re receiving treatment. You will notice that many pediatric nebulizers have fun shapes and are meant to be appealing to kids. You will even find nebulizers that have the shape of an animal and some come in bright colors.

Tabletop or Handheld Device

Based on your needs, you should determine whether you’ll need a tabletop or handheld nebulizer. If you travel frequently, you wouldn’t want to purchase a bulky nebulizer that weighs several pounds. You might want to consider a handheld device that you can conveniently carry with you when you’re traveling. Some nebulizers are so small that they can even fit in the palm of your hand!

Patients with severe asthma might also find it handy to have a handheld device, especially when they’re traveling. In such cases, it makes sense that you purchase a portable model to meet your needs.

If you’ll be primarily using your device at home, then you should consider a tabletop device, which you don’t need to move around often.

For persons traveling by airplane, it is necessary that they inform Transportation Security Administration
that they’re carrying a nebulizer and their medication. Patients are legally allowed to travel with these so long as they pack the device as required and store all liquid medications in the appropriate containers.

Nebulizer’s Speed Capacity

The speed at which the nebulizer is able to effectively deliver the medication is crucial. This is especially true when you’re experiencing an asthma attack–you want your nebulizer to offer faster delivery of your medication for rapid symptom relief.

Note that the capacity for nebulizers to deliver medication range between four to eight liters per minute. Manufacturers typically specify the airflow rate of a nebulizer in the product description. To be sure about what you’ll be getting, you should always read the product information.

To improve the airflow rate of your nebulizer, you should always keep the nebulizer filter clean. Watch the video below from the American Lung Association to learn how to clean a nebulizer.

Type of Medication Delivery System

This is one feature that many people fail to consider when purchasing a nebulizer. Nebulizers deliver medication using different mechanisms. Most devices use the following common designs:

Jet Nebulizers

These are the most common designs that you’ll find on the market. These devices deliver medication using a compressor, which pushes air through the liquid medication. The air helps turn the medicine into a mist that you can easily breathe.

Vibrating Mesh Nebulizers

These devices have been lauded as alternatives to jet nebulizers because of portability and significantly improved efficacy. Only one nebulizer machine uses vibrating mesh techology–the Omron Microair NE-U22 model.

Ultrasonic Wave Nebulizers

These devices use high-frequency electricity to power a transducer that vibrates and divides the liquid medication in the nebulizer chamber into small particles to form an aerosol mist.

Noise Level

This is more of a preference than a logistical necessity. Note that jet nebulizers, especially those that have a large compressor, are noisier. Vibrating mesh nebulizers have also been reported to be less noisy than jet nebulizers.

The noise level of a nebulizer is an important factor if you’re planning on using it at night, maybe while falling asleep. This is really important when used in children, who might sometimes feel sleepy while receiving their medication.

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Further Reading

Sagalla RB, Smaldone GC. Capturing the efficiency of vibrating mesh nebulizers: minimizing upper airway deposition. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. 2014 Oct;27(5):341-8. doi: 10.1089/jamp.2014.1152. Epub 2014 Aug 8. PMID: 25105472.


Princila earned a Doctor of Medicine degree in 2006 and worked as a general practitioner for nearly two years before moving to Saudi Arabia. Her passion for writing took its toll, and she ended up switching careers to work in the medical publishing industry. She also has a passion for healthy food, which prompted her to take several online courses in nutrition and health offered by Wageningen University. Are you into research? You can connect with Princila on ResearchGate or LinkedIn. Visit our About page for details.

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