Breathing Treatments: Your Questions Answered.

Breathing Treatments: Your Questions Answered

So, I get lots of questions about breathing treatments. Here are some of the most common ones, followed by my pithy answers.

How long do treatments last?

I think the average treatment lasts about 10 minutes. It kind of depends on how much flow your nebulizer is generating. It also depends on how many solutions you put into the nebulizer. For example, a breathing treatment with just albuterol should last about 10 minutes. However, if you mix in Pulmicort, the treatment may last up to 20 minutes.

Why do treatments in the hospital seem to get done quicker than at home?

Good question.  Some of my patients do say their treatments last about 10 minutes or longer at home. Treatments I give last 5-10 minutes. So, what gives? Well, that’s because I am able to set the flow on the flowmeter to whatever I want. We usually use 10 LPM where I work. The air compressors you use at home have their own preset flow. Some may be set as low as 6 LPM. So, this will make the treatments last a little longer if you take them at home. But, they are equally effective, or they should be.

Why do albuterol treatments in the hospital seem to work better than they do at home?

There is no difference in the quality of albuterol whether it’s inhaled in the hospital setting or at home.

Will a nebulizer work for me? Do I need one?

This is a question best answered following a discussion with your doctor. Asking these questions is a great way to begin that discussion. That said, there are some advantages to using nebulizers over inhalers.

What are the advantages of taking breathing treatments over inhalers?

Most inhalers give you one puff of the medicine. They require you to generate enough flow when you inhale. This is the only way to get the medicine to your lower airways where it’s needed. Some people with COPD are unable to generate this flow. This is especially true during flare-ups or during the later stages of the disease. This makes breathing treatments ideal for these patients. The is because the medicine is inhaled over a period of time, and your ability to generate a certain amount of flow is less important.

How do nebulizers work?

Ever take physics and learn about the Bernoulli principle?. This is the name of the principle that explains how it works. A flow of air enters a tiny opening in the bottom of the nebulizer cup. This creates a stream through the water. This stream moves so fast that it creates a negative pressure along its sides. The solution is sucked into this stream and turned into a mist to be inhaled.

How do I get a nebulizer? How much do they cost?

Modern nebulizer systems are relatively inexpensive. You can purchase them at stores like Amazon. I bought a basic table unit on Amazon for around $50. You can also get a prescription from your doctor. When you do this your insurance may cover most or all of the cost. When you do this you will probably get a basic unit like the one I purchased. There are some people who prefer a specific nebulizer brand. For instance, some people want a portable nebulizer. Some insurances may cover the cost of these. But, chances are you’ll have to cover the cost of these our of your own pocket.

Conclusion.

So, these are some of the most common questions I hear about nebulizers and breathing treatments. If you have any further questions, please ask in the comments section below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (17)
  • WondaCorcoran
    3 months ago

    I use Levalbuterol in my nebulizer. I have stage 4 ( very severe copd/emphysema. After I do my breathing treatment I am very short of breath and feel like my chest is so tight and full for about 10 to 15 minutes after my treatment then I begin to breathe better. Does anybody else have this problem?

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi WondaCorcoran and thanks for your post and question. While others in the community may respond with their own personal experiences, you may want to also post this in our question and answer section, which you can find here: https://copd.net/q-and-a/. As well, you may stimulate more conversation by posting it on our COPD Facebook page. What do you think? Leon (site moderator)

  • jhljohn
    8 months ago

    my doctor. give me combination of combivent and pulmicort.
    Your view please
    Thank you

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi jhljohn – That’s a faily common combination of medications. It’s a dual medication made up of ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate. The Ipratropium bromide is an anticholinergic bronchodilator and the albuterol is a beta2-adrenergic bronchodilator – both working a little differently to open your airways. The Pulmicort is Budesonide which is a corticosteriod to prevent and reduce inflammation in the airways. The medications work together very well to do their respective jobs. I hope you find them to be good for you.

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    It’s our pleasure, jhljohn. Glad to be able to provide you with support. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • jhljohn
    8 months ago

    Thanks for Lyn and Leon
    for answering my questions.
    For your info as my doctor advise, I am having both medication, nebulizer, spiolto respimart and Seritide 125, and still do my exercises, brisk walking Cycling and Golf
    Thanks for the doctors
    Thanks for the moderator who reconfirm this..

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi jhljohn and thanks for your inquiry (below) regarding Stiolto Respimat, another combination medication. I thought you might gain some additional insight by reading this article about that specific medication: https://copd.net/treatment/medication-overview/medications/stiolto-respimat/. For a finer explanation as to which of the medications you’re inquiring about is the best for you, I would suggest you take this up with your prescribing physician.
    Please do check back and let us know how you’re doing.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • jhljohn
    8 months ago

    Thanks moderator appreciated.
    Another question my doctor also gave me Spiolto respimart/ or Spiriva 18mcg
    and Seritide 125.
    Your view please. Thanks

  • korea
    8 months ago

    Would it be possible to use an inhaler in the mornings and a nebulizer in the afternoon or evening?

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi korea – theoretically the answer is Yes, you could use an inhaler in the morning and a nebulizer another time of the day. However, before you change anything about your medication regimen, I would definitely suggest speaking to your doctor. It probably won’t be an issue at all, but it’s always good to pass it by them.

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • WillDoe
    8 months ago

    I had a similar situation after my stroke in 2012. I was wearing diapers for a month.
    It got better with regular exercise. I also remember having accidents due to the exercises. That was embarrassing, but I kept at it.
    Now I have BPH. And that is a conditional situation: it depends upon how long I’ve been sitting. That is, sitting keeps me from realizing that I’ve got to go and when I realize I-gotta-go: I can’t! Can you get up and walk around every hour? I don’t mean long-hauls, just a walk around the house.
    Up and around.
    I really hope this helps!
    Will

  • janrivera
    8 months ago

    Thank you…will try this also.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi janrivera – glad to hear you found this to be helpful and will give it a try. Please do check back and let us know how you’re doing. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Linnie
    8 months ago

    I have a special disgusting problem. When I cough or even breathe really heavy, SOB, I will wet myself or dirty myself. I wear Depends but that only helps contain “stuff”. Does anyone else have this problem or am I the only one? I am a female age 65 and wear perfume, dress up, and will just smell terrible. I clean myself with wet wipes designed for this problem and change my diaper but there is not always a restroom nearby. I have had the surgery to fix my bladder leakage and had my rectum done too. Nothing helps.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi Linnie and thanks for posting so candidly about your situation. I realize you may find it ‘disgusting’ as you said, but, you may be interested in knowing that others in our community have expressed their own concerns about the very same issue! While other community members may respond to your post, I thought you might find it both illuminating and interesting to look over this article on this type of ’embarrassing’ situation: https://copd.net/living/an-embarrassing-situation/.
    Wishing you the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Nrsdixie
    8 months ago

    Which treatment would be better to preserve my singing voice. If possible. Lynda

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    8 months ago

    Great question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. I am not aware of any medicine that can preserve a voice. However, that would be a great question for your doctor. He/she may be able to offer you some advice on how to preserve your voice. John. Site Moderator.

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