Throughout this month the COPD Foundation has been focusing on how you can get the most out of some key therapies: inhaled medications through inhalers and nebulizers, supplemental oxygen, and pulse oximeters. Today we’re going to take a closer look at nebulizers. Now… we can’t say that using a nebulizer will make you as happy and excited as this little tot… but let’s talk!
It may be that you’ve used a nebulizer only when you were having an exacerbation. After all, a nebulizer treatment is often given if you go to the emergency department (ED) or in the ambulance on your way to the ED with trouble breathing. Nebulizer treatments work well because when you’re in distress you’re not able to breathe very deeply. With a nebulizer treatment you have more time, about 10-15 minutes, to get that dose of medication deep into your lungs.
But what about using a nebulizer as part of your everyday medication routine even when your breathing is doing fine? You might be thinking that taking an inhaler is your only, and best, option—it’s quick and you can take it wherever you go. But remember, the most important thing about inhaled medications is that you get as much of it as possible—as deep as possible—into your lungs. So, as we talk about getting the most out of your inhaled therapies, it makes sense to consider all your options—and that includes the use of nebulizers.
So, how would you go about finding the best option for you? First of all, take a look at your current form of treatment. Are you able to use your inhalers correctly in order to get as much medication as possible deep into your lungs? To know for sure, show a respiratory health care professional how you take your inhalers. If you’re not getting optimal benefit, talk with your doctor about switching to a nebulizer.
Keep in mind that not all inhaled medications are available for use in nebulizers, so sometimes it’s necessary to use a nebulizer for some meds and an inhaler for others. (To find out which medications are available for nebulizer use, go to: https://www.copdfoundation.org/Learn-More/I-am-a-Person-with-COPD/Treatments-Medications.aspx. Click on the plus (+) signs to find your medication, and if it has a “N,” after it, you can use it in a nebulizer.) Some other benefits of nebulizers are that they can be used with either a mouthpiece or a mask, and that nebulized medications are usually 100% covered by Medicare.
You can learn more about nebulizers by visiting the COPD Foundation Nebulizer Consortium (CNC) section on the COPD Foundation website. There you can see an excellent six-minute video, Helping the World to Breathe, with information, a patient story, and our own Dr. Dave! You can also download a “myth buster” fact sheet on nebulizers and COVID-19, and view a recorded webinar, Nebulizers, COVID-19, and You! featuring COPD Foundation respiratory therapist, Mike Hess, COPD patient Jan Cotton, and Dr. Dave Mannino.
Have you ever had a nebulizer treatment? Are nebulizers part of your regular medication routine, or are you getting optimal use from your inhalers? Either way, we’d love to hear from you!
Follow these links for more information:
Videos with step-by-step instructions on nebulizer use and cleaning: COPD Inhaler Educational Video Series | COPD Foundation
COPD Foundation Nebulizer Consortium (CNC): https://www.copdfoundation.org/Research/Projects-and-Consortia/COPD-Foundation-Nebulizer-Consortium.aspx
Myth buster download: https://www.copdfoundation.org/Portals/0/CNC/CNC_M...