What To Look For in a Portable Nebulizer

What Features Are Important in a Portable Nebulizer?

Woman using nebulizer
Will A Nebulizer Machine Improve My Asthma?. Juanmonino/Getty Images

For asthma patients, nebulizers are a great piece of equipment that can help deliver medicine directly to the respiratory system.  Patients often feel that nebulizers are often more effective than inhalers, especially when delivering large quantities of medicine.  However, this feeling has not been demonstrated in clinical trials.

Traditional home nebulizers can be bulky and aren’t very useful for people who live very active lifestyles or travel a lot.

  Luckily, portable nebulizers can deliver all of the same benefits of an at-home nebulizer for asthma sufferers who don’t like to be tied down to a home machine.  These are great devices to help with your asthma control when you are traveling or just need to be away, but want the comfort of having an asthma delivery system near by. Here’s the top things you should look for in a portable nebulizer before purchasing your first one.


1.  Health Insurance Coverage

Many healthcare insurance plans will cover portable nebulizers as “durable medical equipment,” but be careful before buying just any portable nebulizer.  Most insurance plans will only cover specific instrument manufacturers, so make sure that the nebulizer you are looking at is covered by your plan.  If it isn’t, ask your doctor for a comparable model made by a manufacturer that your insurance will cover.  Paying out of pocket, portable nebulizers can often cost more than $100, so finding one that your health insurance covers is a smart move.



2.  Battery Life and Options

Portable nebulizers are all battery powered, but there are lots of different options to consider when purchasing one.  Some units run off of standard AA batteries, which can be replaced conveniently when your batteries are running low.  However, units that run off of an interior rechargeable pack tend to have longer battery life.

  And often, car chargers are available for purchase to make rechargable battery packs almost just as convenient as AAs or other standard batteries- this can be great when you are traveling or at the park.  Think about how often you will be using your device and in what conditions in order to decide what kind of battery life and recharging options you need.


3.  Ultrasonic vs. Compressor Nebulizers- Which Is Best For Me?

Many portable nebulizers are Ultrasonic these days, but you can still find compressor options as well.  Ultrasonic models deliver medication a whole lot faster, and can only take 5 minutes in total to set up and administer compared to 15 minutes or so for compressor nebulizers.  If you have a lot of time constraints in your daily schedule and will be taking medicine semi often, an ultrasonic model is probably your best bet for a quick treatment at the office or when you are on the move. 


4.  Size

While all portable nebulizers are a whole lot smaller than at-home table top options, there is still a lot of variety in the size and portability of different units.

  On the smaller side, portable nebulizers can be as small as a deck of playing cards, and can fit easily in a purse or even in a jacket pocket.  On the larger side, portable units can range upwards in size to around the size of a medium water bottle, which obviously won’t be as easy to transport.  Think about how often you will use your nebulizer and where you would like to store it when traveling before deciding on a size. 


5.  Ease of Cleaning

Your portable nebulizer will need to be cleaned from time to time in order to continue delivering medicine effectively, and how easy it is to clean a unit you are deciding on is an important factor to consider.  Failing to take proper care of your nebulizer can lead to increased risk of infections and other complications. If you are only going to be using your portable nebulizer as a backup or on occasion when you travel, it may not be as big of an issue.  But if you intend to use your unit daily at work or wherever else you are away from home, you will want to make sure you get one that is easy to take apart and clean.  The last thing you want is to take apart your nebulizer away on a trip and not be able to get it back together. Reading user reviews of any unit you are looking at is the best way to determine this factor. 


6.  Replaceable Parts

Some portable nebulizers aren’t designed to be repaired easily, and you won’t be able to find replacement parts to fix your own if it breaks.  But if you live a very active lifestyle and don’t want to worry about breaking a piece of equipment worth potentially hundreds of dollars, look for a unit that has swappable, replaceable pieces.  Many users won’t consider this factor as heavily, but if you are a DIY fan, check out the user manual for any nebulizer you are considering purchasing and look for replacement part information. Finally, consider how long your nebulizer company has been around and if they seem to have a good customer service record.


7.  Reliability of Medication Delivery

Some portable nebulizers don’t deliver certain medications as well as others, based on their design and their power capabilities.  For example, some pediatric medication won’t be delivered as well with an ultrasonic nebulizer as a compression one.  Before investing in a portable nebulizer, check with your doctor about how well different models deliver the medication you need.  User reviews can be another good place to look for this information, but your doctor’s word is far superior. Also if you use an asthma educator, make sure they are familiar with it if you will need their help. Finally, ease of use is a really important feature to consider-- if you can't use it the nebulizer will not do you much good.



“Tips & Advice Center: General Nebulizer Information.”  JustNebulizers.  http://justnebulizers.com/general-nebulizer-information#tabletop portable

Continue Reading