What is a Nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a machine that turns liquid medication into a mist that can be inhaled by patients with respiratory conditions, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The medication used in nebulizer treatments is the same as the medication found in a hand-held metered-dose inhaler (MDI). However, with MDIs, patients need to be able to inhale quickly and deeply, in coordination with a spray of the medication.
For patients who are too young or too ill to coordinate their breath, or for patients who don’t have access to inhalers, nebulizer treatments are a good option.
What medication is in a Nebulizer?
There are two types of medication used in nebulizers. One is a fast-acting medication called albuterol, which relaxes the smooth muscles that control the airway, allowing the airway to expand.
The second type of medication is a long-acting medication called ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) that blocks the pathways that cause airway muscles to contract, which is another mechanism that allows the airway to relax and expand.
Often albuterol and ipratropium bromide are given together in what’s referred to as a DuoNeb.
What can you expect during and after a Nebulizer treatment?
It takes 10-15 minutes to complete one treatment. Patients with significant wheezing or respiratory distress may complete up to three back-to-back nebulizer treatments to receive the maximum benefit.
Side effects of albuterol include a fast heart rate, insomnia, and feeling jittery or hyper. These side effects typically resolve within 20 minutes of completing the treatment.
Side effects of ipratropium bromide include dry mouth and throat irritation.
When should you receive a Nebulizer treatment?
If you’re experiencing respiratory symptoms, including a cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention to see if a nebulizer treatment is indicated for your symptoms. We offer nebulizer treatment for RSV, which is an effective way to treat younger children
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here 7 days a week to care for you! We offer on-site nebulizer treatments, as well as same-day medical care for lots of illnesses and injuries.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant