What is a Nebuliser?
A nebuliser (or nebulizer for the US) is a device that delivers quick-acting medications, converting them from a liquid form to a fine mist that can be inhaled. These devices can administer a high dose of medication quickly and easily helping to relax the airways to make it easier to breathe. They are therefore most associated with respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD, as they allow medicines to reach the lungs quickly and easily even if the patient’s breathing capacity is limited.
The medication is typically placed in a cup or chamber, and the device converts it into a fine mist using compressed air or ultrasonic vibration. The mist is then inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece.
Adults and Children can receive medication through a nebuliser and there are different sized masks for babies or small children.
They can be used on an as-needed basis for symptom relief, or as a regular part of a treatment plan to prevent symptoms from occurring. These devices can be a useful tool, particularly for people who have difficulty swallowing pills or using inhalers.
Our range of mains powered and portable nebulisers are provided by world leading manufacturers, who design and develop medical equipment for use at home and in healthcare facilities.
What are the different types of nebuliser?
There are several different types and these are detailed below.
Compressor Nebuliser (also called Jet or Nozzle)
This type uses a compressor to create a flow of air through the device and past the medicine, converting into tiny particles that create a mist.
Jet Nebulisers often have more than one attachment available, allowing them to create different sizes of particles. This means they are compatible with almost commonly prescribed medications, making them a highly versatile choice.
They are also the most affordable option. Our most popular of this type is the Neb Pro 2-in-1 Professional Compressor Nebuliser.
Mesh Nebuliser (also called Membrane or Portable)
Mesh nebulisers are driven by a piezo-element and use ultrasonic frequencies to vibrate the mesh. The mesh vibrates and pulls the liquid through it, converting it into a mist in the process.
Because the mesh is a fixed size, they are only suitable for certain medicines. The mesh is too fine for steroids, enzymes, or antibiotics to be used.
However, because the mesh method is so small, light and energy-efficient, this type is usually handheld and battery-powered. This allows for it to be used almost anywhere.
Plus, they usually create the mist more quickly than a Jet nebuliser, reducing treatment times to under 5 minutes. Their portability and quick usage times have seen this become the go-to option for many. The Neb 800 Portable Mesh Nebuliser is a great option.
Ultrasonic nebulisers produce ultrasonic waves directly into the liquid medication, causing aerosol to be produced at the liquid surface. Ultrasonic nebulisers generate high-frequency vibrations (2-3 million every second). This strong vibrations generate small particles from the liquid medication.
Similar to the Mesh Nebulisers, they cannot be used for all medications and are unsuitable for thicker medicines, such as antibiotics or steroids.
They also leave a higher amount of residual medicine, meaning that less reaches your airway and simply goes to waste.
These limitations mean they are far less frequently used than either of the other options. We do not currently offer any Ultrasonic devices for these reasons.
Using a nebuliser at home
You should only use a device at home if all of the following apply:
- A healthcare professional has recommended one
- A healthcare professional prescribes medications to use with it
- The User (and carer) are trained to use it
- The user (and carer) understand the risk of infection and know how to clean and dry all the parts thoroughly to avoid infection.
You should only use the medication that has been prescribed for it.
It is essential that these devices are operated in a well-ventilated room, with a window open and good airflow.
Why use a nebuliser instead of an inhaler?
An inhaler is a good way of getting regular small doses of reliever medications. When used with a spacer, they are 1/3 more effective at delivering the medication into the airway. Nebulisers can provide a much higher dose of medication and are more effective than an inhaler to do. Examples of this may include:
- In an emergency, if you are struggling to breathe and need a high dose of your reliever medicine – paramedics or hospital staff may give you reliever medicine through a nebuliser.
- At home, if your condition is very severe and you cannot use an inhaler, inhalers are not as effective as nebulised medicine.
- If you can’t use an inhaler because of another health condition, such as arthritis.
- For lung conditions, especially for people living with COPD and asthma, using a handheld Inhaler is easier and just as effective, especially if used with a spacer. Still, if you live with certain lung conditions, like cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis, your healthcare professional may arrange for you to use a nebuliser at home.
Nebulisers are good for infants, small children and adults who require reliever medications and regular preventative, prescribed antibiotics. They are also good for people who suffer from lung conditions like:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
The most appropriate device depends on your medication and the condition it is being used to treat.
Most nebulised treatments fall into two categories: upper airway treatment and lower airway treatment. Most devices will be designed primarily for lower airway treatments as this is the more common requirement of the two. These are typically reliever medicines.
Upper airway treatments are often medicines such as antibiotics. Most nebulisers can provide these types of medication but may need to be delivered via a mask rather than a mouthpiece or visa versa.
If you are unsure about your medication’s requirement, please do not ask us! We will be unable to advise you of this; this must be determined by your healthcare professional and is dependent on the prescribed medicine you require.
Several different medications use a nebuliser, including:
- Bronchodilators (relievers) – the drugs used to open up your airway and provide fast effective relief.
- Hypertonic saline solutions (medical grade saltwater solutions) – these loosen mucus in your airway and make it easier to cough up. We offer the SinuAir range with a high concentration of salt that can be used during nebulisation to help relieve wheezing and breathing discomfort.
- Antibiotics – are used to treat and prevent infections.
You should breathe through your mouth until all the medicine is used. When all the medicine is used, the mist will stop.
With a mains powered machine this takes around 10 to 15 minutes.
When using a device with small children it is sometimes easier to use a face mask, as they can sit comfortably until breathing has returned to normal.
Nebulisers are not prescription items and can be purchased by anyone. You do not need to provide a prescription or any proof of requirement to purchase.
If you purchase a machine and discover you do not need it, we can only accept a return if the item is unopened and unused, and it has been returned to us within 30 days of placing your order.
Once opened, a machine cannot be returned as they are medical devices with hygiene restrictions. This applies even if the device hasn’t actually been used.
Therefore we strongly recommend that you only order a nebuliser if you have been prescribed a medicine that requires one.
If your device is not working, check the power source, and ensure your device is plugged firmly into the power outlet. For portable nebulisers, check the batteries to see if they need to be replaced or charged.
Here are a few things to check if your machine is not working:
- Check your accessories; tubing with kinks or a loose connection can prevent your device from working effectively.
- Ensure all of the parts, including the filter, are clean and do not need replacing.
Nebulised medications can reduce chest tightness, coughing, phlegm and other cold symptoms and they can effectively clear congestion and bacterial infections.
If your GP or healthcare provider has prescribed a liquid medication to relieve your cough, you may be able to use this with a nebuliser, but you will need to verify this with your GP before making a purchase.
Almost all of our nebulisers have good stock levels and all have a next-day delivery option available.
Orders placed before 2pm (Monday to Friday) are usually despatched the the same day, so, if a next working day option is chosen at the checkout, then this is estimated to arrive with you on the next working day.
If you want to be 100% sure about which device we can get to you quickly please call us on 0800 024 8050 or email us on [email protected].
We are an online business and do not have a shop that you can visit in person. All available products are list on our website.
No, these are both different types.
However, some nebulisers including the portable NEB 800 use ultrasonic frequencies to vibrate the mesh.
No, you do not need to be 18 to buy a nebuliser, these devices can be purchased by anyone, but you may need a prescription from your doctor in order to purchase certain types of device.
Nebulisers require liquid medications which can only be prescribed by your GP or healthcare provider.
Nebulisers can be purchased at 0% VAT (in other words, VAT free) under certain conditions.
Any product we sell that can have VAT relief claimed on it will have its price shown with 0% VAT as standard. This is because most of our customers qualify for VAT relief, and is therefore the price most customers will pay.
If you do not qualify then 20% VAT will be charged on top of the prices shown on the website.
If you order products that are eligible for VAT relief, then during the checkout process, you will have the option to declare yourself eligible for that relief. The process is very simple – you will see a VAT relief declaration, and a simple check box to confirm if this applies to you.
Who qualifies for VAT relief?
If you are buying a product that is eligible for VAT relief and the recipient of the eligible goods has a ‘chronic illness’ such as asthma or COPD and will be using the goods for their personal or domestic use, then VAT relief can be claimed. A simple tick declaration during the checkout is all that is required.
For clarity, if the recipient of the product will be using the device for reason other than treating a chronic illness, or will be using it in a non-domestic setting (ie in the workplace), or the purchase is being made or funded by a company, then VAT relief should not be claimed, and VAT will be charged at 20%.
The vast majority of our orders have VAT relief claimed because they meet the requirement explained above. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please contact us before you order and we will be happy to advise.
VAT relief is only available to UK customers.
For the Republic of Ireland, VAT must be applied at 21% on all deliveries to the Republic of Ireland.
For all other EU customers no VAT will be charged at the point of order, however, there may be tax on import.
Up until the declaration, the website will presume that VAT is to be charged at 20% (for example, at the Shopping Basket stage all orders will show 20% VAT being applied). Rest assured that this will be easily changed to 0% on eligible products during the checkout process, provided you declare that you qualify for relief.
Please see ‘Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people’ on the GOV.uk website for full details.
There isn’t a list of officially approved devices from the NHS, although different clinics or prescribers may express a preference or recommendation for a particular brand, type or even a specific model.
Equally, there is no one brand, type or model used predominantly within NHS hospitals themselves. Each will acquire machines based on their own requirements, experience and preferences.
If you are looking for a nebuliser and are unsure which would be most suitable for you, then you should speak to your prescriber. They will know which type of device is most suitable for you and your medication.
Nebulisers are not typically provided by the NHS, even if you are prescribed medicine that requires one.
Some consultants or respiratory clinics may arrange for a device to be loaned to you, but this is not the norm. In most cases, the machine is to be purchased by the patient.