Nebulizer vs Inhaler, which is better: How to Choose the Best Option


What is a nebulizer

A nebulizer transforms liquid medication into a mist that can inhale into the lungs. It usually comes in-home and portable versions. The home models are generally large and require electricity, while the portable versions can run on batteries and chargeable in-car outlets. The mobile versions are straightforward to move around in bags or briefcases.

Nebulizer Machine

Nebulizer machines are of three types;

  • The jet type that makes a mister through the use of compressed gas
  • The ultrasonic type makes a mister through high-frequency shuddering. This creates relatively larger particles than the jet type.
  • The mesh type passes liquid through a fine mesh to form a mister. This produces the smallest particles of the three.

Who might use a nebulizer?

A nebulizer is particularly decent for asthmatic infants. It is a viable alternative when it becomes challenging to use an inhaler as there is a need for a hefty dose of inhaled medication. The therapy is often called breathing treatment. In addition, one can use it with other drugs to control symptoms and relieve themselves.

How to use Nebulizer

The first step is to get all needed supplies such as air compressor, nebulizer cup, mask or mouthpiece, and compressor tubing. After that,

  • Place the compressor on a flat, sturdy surface and plug it into an electrical outlet.
  • Wash and dry hands properly (with soap and clean water)
  • Put the medication into the nebulizer cup (measured according to prescription)
  • Assemble the nebulizer cup and mask or mouthpiece
  • Connect the tubing to both the mister compressor and the nebulizer cup
  • Turn on the compressor and make sure it is working as it should be.
  • Sit up properly on a chair; For a child, make sure they are appropriately positioned on the chair. If it is a mouthpiece type, ensure it is correctly placed between teeth and seal lips around it.
  • Be patient until the medication is gone. Usually, when it is finished, the Nebulizer will make a sound, and just a little liquid will be left in the cup. If you feel uncomfortable or dizzy during the medication, you could pause for five (5) minutes and continue slowly.

It should be noted. However, that usage should be based strictly on doctors’ prescriptions.


An inhaler is a device that helps get medicine straight to the lungs. The drug comes in the form of a spray or mist that a person takes in. It is one of the medications for asthma as it efficiently opens up narrow airways. The inhaler is of two categories;

The Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI); is a commonly used inhaler among asthma patients. It houses a boot-shaped mouthpiece that contains a pressurized medicine canister.

The Dry Powder Inhaler; is not as common as the MDI. It houses a powdered formula inhaled into the lungs by exerting a deep fast inhalation. It adopts chemical repellant to launch medicine into the lungs.

How to use an inhaler

  • Remove the cap from the mouthpiece and ensure no dirt or blockages.
  • Shake appropriately for a few seconds
  • Breathe in calmly and then exhale completely.
  • Take a slow breath while the inhaler is in the proper place in your mouth, and press the button. Continue breathing after the press.
  • Hold your breath for 5 – 10 seconds, then slowly inhale through your mouth and slowly press the button.
  • Continue inhaling as deeply as you can
  • Hold your breath slowly for a few seconds before exhaling.
  • Return the cap to the mouthpiece and ensure it is sealed tightly
  • Rinse your mouth afterwards. It could possibly reduce the side effects of the medicine.

 Note that doctors’ prescription is essential.

Inhaler vs Nebulizer

Both inhalers and nebulizers are good medications for asthma and are means of getting medicine into the lungs. However, both have their unique attributes and weaknesses.

A nebulizer is often more efficient and preferable for young children. All that is required is just for them to breathe normally.

 It, however, takes time for the delivery of the medicine. Moreover, the device is relatively unwieldy; even the portable nebulizer can be challenging to carry around.

Nevertheless, one can see and feel the mist of medication.

On the other hand, the inhaler is relatively cheaper and has fewer side effects. It is easily moveable as one can carry it in a pocket or bag, deliver an exact dose of medication, and easily use it for fast treatment. It also guarantees quicker relief during the attack and unlike a nebulizer,

It does not require a power source to function. However, the use of inhalers is not without its limitations. Its use may take practice to master as you need to aim the mouthpiece correctly, and if care is not taken, it could lead to spacer attachment

Whether to use an inhaler or a Nebulizer is a question a doctor can correctly answer, depending on your condition or diagnosis. They both can offer relief for asthma attacks if properly applied. If your doctor has no preferences, you could try both devices to see the one you are more comfortable with. Factors like physical abilities, power availability, and mobility, among others, could be considered in making your choices.

Irrespective of your choice of Inhaler or Nebulizer, it is essential that you know how to use which one you choose, use it at the appropriate time and in the right quantities, understand your medicine and always watch out not to run out of it. In addition, you must track how much is left and how long it can go and make plans for refill or replacement where necessary.

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