Difference Between Nebulizer & Aerosol

A nebulizer and an aerosol spray are two ways of administering liquid medicine to the lungs in the form of a mist. They are often used to administer the same types of medicine, but use different ways of propelling the mist, leading to different advantages and disadvantages.

  1. How a Nebulizer Works

    • A nebulizer works by taking some liquid medicine and blasting compressed air or oxygen through it at a high speed, turning it into a mist that is then inhaled into the patient's lungs. They use an electronic air compressor to build up this pressure.

    Nebulizer Advantages

    • All of the components of a nebulizer are reusable; more medicine can be added, and the air compressor can build up more pressure. Thus, they are often used in cases where the medicine is needed for long-term treatment.

    Nebulizer Disadvantages

    • Nebulizers require a power source and are often fairly large.

    How an Aerosol Works

    • An aerosol spray stores liquid medicine under high pressure maintained by the use of a propellant gas. When the aerosol is used, the liquid sprays through a small hole, turning into a mist.

    Aerosol Advantages

    • Because aerosol units are self contained, they require no electricity and are thus usually much smaller than nebulizers. Most portable inhalers and similar devices use aerosol sprays.

    Aerosol Disadvantages

    • Aerosol sprays are limited use. When the propellent is used up, they cannot be easily refilled and a new canister is needed.

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