Aerosol therapy:
Administering medication by inhalation

What is aerosol therapy?

Home aerosol therapy consists of administering medication by inhalation through a mouthpiece or mask, so that it enters the respiratory system directly. This is possible thanks to a nebuliser, which transforms the liquid solution into an aerosol.

This nebulising method releases therapeutic doses of a drug in the form of breathable particles over a short period (usually between 5 and 10 minutes). Nebulisers create a mist of liquid particles in a gas, which the patient breathes in. As the action is local, lower doses of the medication are administered. This way, the drug acts more quickly, reducing its side effects.

Nebulisers must be used correctly. Otherwise, they can cause problems and fail to serve the purpose for which they were prescribed. They may not be effective if the right technique is not used or if they are not cleaned properly.

Benefits and indications of aerosol therapy

Aerosol therapy is a treatment indicated for patients with certain respiratory diseases: COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, respiratory tract infections, etc.

Aerosol therapy is suitable for both adults and children and offers several benefits:

  • It is highly recommendable for children, as it administers the medication painlessly without requiring the patient’s collaboration (the child can be awake or sleeping), crying does not impede the treatment, and little time is needed for the therapy.
  • It is easy to administer as breathing is a natural physiological act.
  • It is highly effective, as the drug goes straight to the area to be treated and is released in exactly the right quantity where it is needed.
  • Its tolerability is high: as a lower dose of the medication is used locally, there are fewer side effects and contraindications.
  • Furthermore, aerosol therapy is compatible with the different types of medications used to treat respiratory conditions, such as bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics or mucolytics, and it can be used to administer saline.

What types are available?

The doctor will choose the type of nebuliser according to the location of the respiratory illness, the medication to be administered, the duration of the therapy, and the frequency and duration of each aerosol therapy session.

Jet nebuliser (low flow)

This type of nebuliser is based on the Venturi effect. As a propellant, it uses compressed air from a compressor with a flow rate of less than 8 litres per minute. The gas that nebulises the solution in which the medication is dissolved is generated by an electric compressor.

The device is made up of a cup or chamber that holds the liquid to be nebulised, an air inlet and tubing, through which the liquid passes once it has been nebulised.

When the drug solution stored in the cup collides with the jet of air, which flows at a high speed, it breaks up into small droplets that can enter the respiratory tract.

Jet nebuliser (high flow)

This nebuliser has a flow rate of over 6–8 litres per minute. It is used to nebulise antibiotics that, due to their special characteristics, cannot be administered through other types of equipment.

Ultrasonic nebuliser

With this nebuliser, the particles are generated through a piezoelectric crystal transducer, which produces high-frequency vibrations that break up the drug solution. It provides 100 % humidity, and 90 % of the particles reach the lower respiratory tract.

It is indicated for diseases of the small airways, as the diameter of the nebulised particles it generates is very small. It can be used to nebulise solutions with bronchodilators or saline.

Mesh nebuliser

In this nebuliser, the aerosol is produced through vibrating mesh technology in the medicine chamber. It can be powered by battery.

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Tubing, filters and accessories

Tubing, filters and accessories

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