Question about how to choose a nebulizer.Q: " I am confused. There are so many different types of nebulizers and so many brands. How do I know which I need: an ultrasonic microair, a compressor, a battery powered unit, an AC unit, etc.? I have a Rx from my doctor as I have asthma. Thanks." Vance.
Answer: With your Rx in hand, you are ready to buy, once you decide. (All nebulizers sold and shipped to USA addresses require a prescription from a physician or must be shipped to a medical or veterinary facility).
Nebulizers vary by type and price. The jet nebulizers, also called piston or compressor, are available in tabletop models or handheld portable nebulizer
models. The tabletop models are typically less expensive, noisier and bulkier than the ultrasonic unit. An adult mask and sometimes a pediatric mask usually come with the tabletop units. The microair or ultrasonic nebulizers rarely include masks, which are often available at extra charge. Ultrasonic are smaller, quieter and more expensive.
There are many brands. Currently we sell Omron, the compact inexpensive yet effective Lumiscope 6700
,the John Bunn Neb-U-tyke Railroad Train Nebulizer
etc. Power is via rechargeable batteries, AA batteries, 120VAC/240VAC or 12V car cords. Weigh can be a few ounces to 3 to 5 pounds. Units can even resemble cows, penguins
, race cars, trains
, etc. Nebulizer accessories include disposable medication cups, mesh or foam filters, replacement nebulizer kits, battery packs, etc.
Here are factors to consider:
- What Your Physician Recommends?
- Frequency of Use? Occasional, Daily, Multiple Times Each Day
- Need for Portable Unit? For Travel, Backpack for School Children, Etc.
- Need for Masks?
- Need for Use in Vehicles or Where Electricity is Not Available? 12Volt Adapter, Replaceable or Rechargeable Batteries?
- Storage? Do you have room for a larger unit?
- Type of Medication You Use? Need to Get Every Drop Inhaled?
- Time You Have to Spend for Treatments? 15 Minutes, 5 Minutes?
- Cost: Do you have insurance? What will they contribute?
Compressor Nebulizers: Commonly larger, May or may not have one or two (adult and/or child masks) included. Treatment typically up to 15 minutes. Less expensive (under $100 except for compact portable units). Usually less prone to need repairs: sturdier, remains on a table or shelf, rarely transported or dismantled except for cleaning or storage. Noisier due to the compressor. AC powered. Uses compressed air to turn liquid medication into a mist. Not as efficient at nebulizing every last drop of medication. To make life more confusing, there are also portable compressor nebulizers that are quite small like the Mabis NebXP that operates on a rechargeable battery or AC.
Ultrasonic or MicroAir Nebulizers: Smaller, handheld. (The Omon is the size of a puffer or inhaler). Often no masks included. More expensive, from $175 to more than $300. Easily fits in handbag, briefcase or backpack. More likely to be dropped accidentally. Quiet, sometimes almost silent. AC, disposable batteries, 12 volt adapter and/or rechargeable battery powered. Rechargeable battery power is limited to 2 or 3 treatments before recharge required. Ultrasonic vibrations turn the liquid medication into a mist. Ultrasonic nebulizers often require water to be added to the medication. Faster medication delivery and in smaller, more uniform sized particles. (A customer phoned to tell me his wife did not know he had begun and completed his treatment as the Omron unit was so quiet and the treatment was so fast!) Filters can be expensive but last much longer.
Studies don't show much difference between the two varieties as far as effectiveness is concerned for treatment of respiratory problems.
Thank you for your question. We recommend you enter "nebulizer" into the search on our website and examine the options before you buy. Most manuals are available on the individual nebulizer pages. Feel free to email us or phone if you need more information.