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How to take care of your nebulizer: cleaning, supplies and everything you need to know

In the season of colds and flu, aerosol therapy is of great help both for fighting viruses and bacteria and for relieving respiratory symptoms.

Inhalers and nebulisers are used for the purpose. It is also widely used in the treatment of diseases of the respiratory system in adults and children. The handling and care of therapy devices is as important as their operation. How to take care of these devices – read below. 

What are aerosol devices (inhalers, nebulisers)? 

Nebulisers and inhalers are devices that help children or adults take medicine by inhalation. Nebulisers turn liquid medications into vapour so that patients can inhale them, and inhalers release the medicine in the form of a fine powder which can also be inhaled. These devices are very efficient when used and maintained properly. [1]   

Types of inhalers and nebulisers 

The nebulisers to which Zano inspire belongs are electric or battery powered. They turn liquid medicine into a fine mist. This mist passes through a tube that is attached to a mouthpiece or face mask.  

 Nebulisers are easy to use. You just have to put the mouthpiece in the mouth or the mask over the nose and mouth and inhale the medicine. With nebulisers, the patient needs to wait for 5 or 10 minutes to take the medication. 

There are several types of nebulisers: 

  • Compressor nebulisers use compressed gas to create aerosols. Such is Zano inspire. 
  • Ultrasonic nebulisers create aerosols through high-frequency vibrations. They create larger particles. 
  • Mesh nebulisers form the smallest particles. With them, the substance passes through a very fine mesh and thus the aerosol is formed. [2,3]  

Inhalers are small and compact devices. There are several main types: 

  • Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs). These inhalers push out the prescribed dose of the medicine in the form of a spray. 
  • Dry-powder inhalers deliver the medicine in powder form, but it is not sprayed. Then the patient should inhale the medicine quickly and deeply. [2]

3 easy breathing exercises for children

How are nebulisers used? 

Each inhaler or nebuliser is accompanied by instructions for its proper use.  

There are some general steps that must be followed: 

  • The mouthpiece should be held between the teeth and the lips should be closed around it. 
  • The nebuliser and/or inhaler should always be in an upright position. This prevents spillage and helps inhalation. 
  • Deep breathing during treatment allows the medicine to be absorbed as much as possible by the respiratory system.

When using the mask, the principles are similar – the mask should be placed tightly over the nose and the mouth and the inhalations should be deep.[4] 

How to clean the inhaler and nebuliser after each use? 

In addition to proper use, adequate cleaning is also very important after each use. Following the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer will prevent the drying out of any medicine left in the cup, which can cause ineffective spraying. In addition, proper hygiene will prevent the development of bacteria. If the nebuliser is contaminated, inhalation would be risky. 

There are some basic rules that include:  

  • Disassembling the nebuliser/inhaler. Washing all parts (except tubes and finger valve) with liquid detergent for dishes and water.  
  • After washing, excess water is removed. 
  • The parts of the device and the pipes are re-attached to the air compressor and the compressor is switched on to dry the device faster. The nebuliser must be completely dry before being stored. [4]   

How is the nebuliser/inhaler sterilised? 

In each instruction manual, the manufacturer has indicated exactly how the device can be sterilized. To ensure your safety and increase the effectiveness of treatment, it is very important to keep the system clean. Once a week the nebuliser should be subjected to a more thorough sterilisation. Please note that some manufacturers’ instructions may vary, so always check your manual before cleaning your nebuliser/inhaler for the first time. 

Once a week it is good to: 

  • review the manual of the device for specific instructions. You may need to soak all parts of the device (except the mask, tubes and compressor) in one part of distilled white vinegar/three parts of hot water for one hour (do not use cleaning solution again). 
  • rinse, remove excess water and let it air dry on a clean cloth. 
  • reassemble the parts and tubes and run the compressor briefly to dry out. [4,5]

Not every inhaler and nebuliser may be sterilised in a steriliser. Each manufacturer indicates what the best way is to maintain and sterilise the device.   

Nebulizers – Types, Benefits and Uses

When is the right time to change the parts of the nebuliser/inhaler? 

The filters of the compressor eventually get dirty and the ducts get clogged. In addition, tubes, masks and mouthpieces deteriorate over time. It is essential to clean your nebuliser/inhaler, replace parts, and check for faulty components. This will help you get the most out of your treatment with the device. Here are some basic rules for maintenance: 

  • Always follow the instructions of the manufacturer for cleaning your nebuliser, including when to replace parts and accessories. 
  • Do not use nebuliser masks longer than recommended, even if they look good. Some accessories, such as disposable masks, are designed to be discarded after 5 to 7 uses, while regular nebuliser masks for children and adults are designed to be used for up to 6 months. Plastics degrade over time and the benefits of treatment can be diminished with a mask used longer than indicated. When replacing, make sure you have purchased an accessory that is compatible with your device. 
  • Replace the filter of the nebuliser as recommended in the user manual or when it appears grey or dirty. If you do not change the filter, your compressor will work harder than it should and this will cause the device to fail. Always buy filters that are suitable for your compressor. Most manufacturers offer parts for the specific nebuliser/inhaler model. The manufacturers of Zano inspire offer everything you need for proper maintenance of the device.  
  • Clean the outside of the tube and replace when recommended. 
  • Replace any part or accessory that looks cracked or worn out. 
  • It is good to have spare tubes, mouthpieces and masks in case they get damaged or worn out. Most manufacturers offer these consumables.[5] 

The nebuliser and the inhaler are true helpers in the fight against diseases of the respiratory system. 

In parallel, it is necessary to take care of them so that they can serve us for the longest time possible. In each manual you can find information on how to take care of the device as well as when and which part to replace.  

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