Nebulizer machines are devices used to administer medications for certain respiratory diseases, like asthma, to patients like young children, elderly people and generally to anyone who cannot use metered dose inhalers.
These devices turn liquid medication into fine mist that can easily be inhaled through a face mask or a mouthpiece. The patients using nebulizers are advised to learn about its parts and about how they are cleaned and maintained so the device can always function properly.
Parts of the nebulizer machine
There are two basic types of nebulizers - compressor or jet nebulizer and ultrasonic nebulizer. The compressor type if more widely used than the ultrasonic one.
In compressor or jet nebulizer, the compressor, which is the vital part of the device, creates a pressurized stream of air that goes through the liquid medicine. Nebulizer cup is a small recipient that holds the liquid medication. It is connected to the compressor through the tubes and sometimes it has valves that control the air flow. The cup is connected, again through the tubes, to the mask or the mouthpiece that delivers the aerosol mist into the mouth, so it can be inhaled. Most people use mouthpiece and the masks are mainly used for children.
The other type of nebulizer, the ultrasonic nebulizer, uses ultrasound waves to produce mist from the liquid medicine. It uses an ultrasound transducer that converts electric energy into ultrasound waves. The other parts - nebulizer cup, tubing, mouthpiece or mask - are the same as in the jet or compressor nebulizer.
There are also portable nebulizers, which have all the same parts as the two mentioned above, only smaller and handier.
How to clean nebulizer machines
In order for the nebulizer machines to function properly, it is necessary to clean them on regular basis, otherwise the machine may fail to work properly or it may become a source of infection. The parts that can be removed and cleaned are the cup, the mask or the mouthpiece and the T-shaped elbow that connects them to the nebulizer cup. These parts should be washed in warm water, possibly with the help of a toothbrush or similar small brush, and rinsed in distilled water. They should then be left to air-dry, after which they should be wiped with a dry, clean cloth and stored in fresh zip-lock bags.
It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the cleaning and the maintenance of the nebulizer machine. Some machines have filters that too need to be cleaned every once in a while.