What Is the Difference Between a Nebulizer and Inhaler?

If your child needs to take medication to reduce their wheezing symptoms, it’s crucial that it gets to where it needs to be — into their lungs. Nebulizers and inhalers are both designed to deliver medication, but which device is best? This week we're looking at the differences between nebulizers and inhalers and how each one might benefit a wheezy child. 

Nebulizers are drug delivery devices that are used to treat various respiratory illnesses.

Nebulizers are drug delivery devices that are used to treat various respiratory illnesses.

What's a Nebulizer?

Nebulizers are powered devices that turn liquid asthma medicines into an easily inhaled mist. They can be either electric or battery powered, and are available in portable and tabletop versions. 

An air compressor helps to convert liquid medicine into a mist, which travels through a tube that connects to a mouthpiece. Some nebulizers can also be used with face masks that you place over your mouth and nose. This delivery method is particularly helpful for very young children. 

What's an Inhaler?

Inhalers are small handheld and portable devices that deliver asthma medication. The most common type of inhaler is a metered dose inhaler, also known as an MDI.  

MDI inhalers are frequently used with spacers, as without a spacer, inhalers are often used incorrectly. This is because inhalers require a specific technique to administer asthma medication to the lungs effectively. Incorrect usage of inhalers is common and can cause asthma medicine only to reach the back of the throat. It is crucial that if your child has an inhaler, they are using it correctly. Improper inhaler technique can make respiratory care ineffective — and wheezing challenging to manage. 

Only 16% of respiratory patients use their inhaler correctly according to a study by the University of Texas.

Only 16% of respiratory patients use their inhaler correctly according to a study by the University of Texas.


Nebulizer or Inhaler — Which one is better?

This is a slightly loaded question for our team, after all, we have developed a smart, connected-portable nebulizer — we clearly have a preference — and with good reason! In 2015 a study by the University of Texas found that 84% of people incorrectly use their inhaler.  As the most commonly prescribed delivery method of life-saving respiratory drugs, we find this statistic terrifying. 

The most significant difference between a nebulizer and an inhaler is the ease of use. A nebulizer is designed to place medication directly into the lungs and needs little patient cooperation. This is vital because the lungs are the source of inflammation. To use a nebulizer "correctly," all you have to do is breathe as normal, making them an excellent option for younger children. 

If you believe your child may be misusing their inhaler, or not receiving their full dose, it is crucial that you discuss your concerns with their doctor. 

For more information about our portable-connected nebulizer and how it can help you manage your respiratory care needs click here.

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Kirstie HinesComment