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Nebulizers – When Only the Mist Will Do …
On June 4, 2009 @ 11:08 am In All Articles,Devices
By Laurie Ross
Ivory-tower research studies say that metered-dose inhalers (when used correctly either with or without a valved holding chamber) are just as effective as nebulizers at getting medication deep into your airways. However, many of you have told us otherwise: Inhalers are great when you’re out and about, but if you’re under the weather and feeling short of breath, there’s nothing more therapeutic than inhaling the cool, medicated mist of your trusty nebulizer. Nebulizers have changed a lot through the years. No longer do you have to measure out doses with a syringe, mix with sterile saline, then sit with a loud, bulky machine and inhale/exhale for 20 minutes. Today’s medications come in easy-to-use sterile, unit-dose vials and some machines are small enough for dorm rooms and quiet enough for silent nights. But do you know how to use them safely? Used incorrectly, nebulizer medication can cause respiratory symptoms to worsen.
STEP 1: CHECK YOUR MEDICATION
Before you begin, take a look at your medicine:
If you answer “yes” to any of these, replace it.
STEP 2: WASH YOUR HANDS
To keep your nebulizer – and your lungs – free of germs, always wash your hands before handling the medication and equipment.
STEP 3: GATHER YOUR EQUIPMENT
Jet compressors force air into the nebulizer cup that holds the liquid medication, breaking the liquid into an aerosol. They come in all sizes and are much quieter than they used to be. The nebulizer cup design determines how consistently the system can produce droplets that are the right size to travel deep into the airways. This is no time to skimp – use quality equipment, keep it meticulously clean and replace it as recommended. You won’t notice the droplet size, but your lungs certainly will. Breath-enhanced and breath-actuated units allow less medication to escape into the air.
Very young children, as well as handicapped or elderly patients unable to hold a mouthpiece in their mouths dependably should always use a mask. Choose one that is soft and pliable enough to fit snug on the face and large enough to cover the mouth and nose.
STEP 4: POUR MEDICATION INTO NEBULIZER CUP
Unit-dose vials are a snap to use; just twist off the top and pour. To avoid spills, choose a nebulizer cup that will sit flat. Take a sniff as you pour and throw out any medication that smells foul, spoiled or like it may contain rubbing alcohol. (If it smells of alcohol, it’s illegal – it’s not FDA-approved.)
STEP 5: SIT BACK AND RELAX
Put the mask in place or place the mouthpiece over your tongue and close your teeth and lips tightly around it, then turn on the machine. Breathe normally. If you start to cough, turn the machine off until you can breathe freely again. Continue the breathing treatment until the cup is empty. If the medication foams or bubbles, stop the treatment; you may have defective or contaminated medicine or equipment.
STEP 6: Wash Up
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to keep your nebulizer cup, mouthpiece and tubing clean. Be fastidious; whatever gets into your cup – from your hands, medication or house dust – will get into your lungs. When everything is clean and dry, store the system where it will stay dust-free.Nebulizer cup/mouthpiece units and tubing don’t last forever. You may not notice, but the plastic will break down over time. Replace them as recommended – and don’t forget to clean or change the air filter (most machines have one).
Some nebulizing systems use vibration or ultrasound to break down the liquid
instead of forced air. These are small, battery powered and quiet, but not
all medications are suited to the new technology. Check with your healthcare
provider to make sure you’re using the right system for your medicine.
Fakes & Frauds
Some home health companies and large pharmacies mix and package their own nebulizer medications and market them directly to patients as cheaper and more convenient (”delivered straight to your home!”). These medications may not be manufactured under sterile conditions and may contain bacteria, irritating preservatives or substandard ingredients.
Article printed from Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics: http://www.aanma.org
URL to article: http://www.aanma.org/2009/06/nebulizers-mis/
URLs in this post:
 here: http://www.aanma.org/pdf/pu_fakes_frauds.pdf
 Contact us: http://www.aanma.org/about-aanma/contact/
 Maximize the Mist – Keep Inhalers Clean, Primed and Ready: http://www.aanma.org/2009/02/maximize-the-mist-keep-inhalers-clean-primed-and-ready/
 Nebulizer Basics: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/nebulizer-basics/
 Mastering HFA Inhalers – Step-by-Step Instructions: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/mastering-hfa-inhalers-%e2%80%93-step-by-step-instructions/
 Easy DOSE It! The art of giving medicine to babies: http://www.aanma.org/2009/01/about-medications/
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