Respiratory diseases is the medical term that refers to diseases of the respiratory system. These include – among others – diseases of the lung, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea and the upper respiratory tract. They can range from mild, such as the common cold, to life-threatening, such as bacterial pneumonia and pulmonary embolism. Some of the most common respiratory diseases in the world are the following:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of people suffer worldwide from a chronic respiratory disease: 235 million people have asthma and 64 million people have COPD, while millions of others suffer from other often-undiagnosed chronic respiratory diseases.
Treatment depends on the particular disease, severity of the symptoms, and the patient. Treatment of respiratory diseases often involves inhaled medication, directly delivered to the respiratory airways and lungs through the use of a nebulizer.
One of the key benefits of nebulization is the fact that the medication is delivered directly into the respiratory tract, allowing for higher concentration of medication in the target area.
Nebulizing medication can have a greater clinical effect compared to similar or larger doses delivered orally (tablets) or by subcutaneous injection. Studies have also shown that nebulization can lead to better treatment results than using an inhaler alone 1,2
There are many different types of nebulizers available in the market to meet different needs. Which nebulizer to choose depends on the respiratory disease to be treated, the patient's age and underlying conditions, and frequency of the required treatment. When choosing a nebulizer, consider the following questions:
1) What disease is the nebulizer for?
Different respiratory diseases involve different parts of the respiratory system. The key factor that determines where the aerosol droplets will be deposited into when inhaled, and hence which part of the respiratory tract will be treated, is the droplet or particle size. Larger medication particles are deposited into the upper airways. A common cold (or rhinitis) and chronic sinusitis are examples of upper respiratory diseases. Smaller medication particles are deposited into the lower airways. COPD, bronchitis and bronchiolitis are examples of lower respiratory diseases. It is therefore important to select a nebulizer that delivers the right particle size for the type of the respiratory disease to be treated.
2) Who will be using the nebulizer?
Patients with severe respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma, may find a nebulizer with a higher nebulization rate more beneficial for delivering higher quantities of nebulized drugs.
For babies and children, a nebulizer with low noise and gentler mist can make it easier and less interrupting for them to inhale the mediation.
For patients with multiple respiratory diseases, a nebulizer that delivers different, adjustable particle sizes can be a more convenient solution for treating the multiple diseases.
3) Where and how often will the nebulizer be used?
If frequent treatment is required, the patient might consider having a robust nebulizer with a high nebulization rate for intensive use.
If treatment is required at different moments of the day, it may be beneficial to have a light and portable nebulizer model.
In case the patient is always on-the-go, then a fully portable nebulizer, such as a mesh-type model, is the best choice. Similar in size to an inhaler, these portable nebulizers are powered by batteries, yet they give high power and optimum flexibility.
¹ Laube et al; What a pulmonologist should know about the new inhalation therapies;_Eur Respir J 2011_37_1308 1331
² Dulfano MJ, Glass P. The bronchodilator effects of terbutaline: route of administration and patterns of response. Ann Allergy 1976;37:357-366