My 63-year-old mother was diagnosed with asthma two years ago. Her condition is pretty severe. Her doctor has advised her to take her medication using an inhaler and a spacer, and only use a nebulizer when her symptoms are severe.
If the medication is the same in all of the devices, why can’t she use the nebulizer instead of the spacer and inhaler? Is there any harm if she uses a nebulizer often?
In general, it is appropriate for a spacer to be used with an inhaler to make it easier to take the medication and to make sure it reaches the lungs.
A nebulizer is a device with a mask or a mouthpiece and an air compressor that turns the medicine into a mist and makes it even easier to take the medication. It is usually used by small children, people with very severe asthma, and people who have problems using an inhaler correctly. (Some symptoms, like coughing, make it difficult to accept medication delivered in a single breath, as with an inhaler.)
While some patients and physicians prefer nebulizers for particularly bad asthma symptoms, the machines are not always required for proper care, since inhalers with spacers can work very well, too.
There are a number of reasons why using a nebulizer–when an inhaler will do just fine–is not a good idea. For one thing, it’s more expensive. For another, nebulizers are intrusive and difficult to carry around, which can make it difficult to manage your asthma–not to mention inconvenient. However, in the appropriate situations (as mentioned above), it’s a very useful device.