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The Best Nebulizers – Our Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Our Research

18
Nebulizers Considered
15
Hours of Research
4
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Overview

When you have a respiratory condition like asthma, medication is often an important part of your life. Many of the medicines used for respiratory illness are most effective when they are delivered directly to the airways and lungs, and this is best accomplished by turning liquid into vapor that can be breathed in. A nebulizer is a medical device that vaporizes medication and administers it right to your respiratory system via a mouthpiece or mask.

Although some healthcare providers may recommend specific machines that work best with your prescription, most nebulizers are effective for any medication made to be used with a nebulizer. People with respiratory conditions, such as those who have sleep apnea, may use nebulizers either prior to using their CPAP machines or during a sleep study. To help you make the right choice, here are Tuck’s top picks for the best nebulizers.

Our Top 3 Picks

The Best Nebulizers – Reviewed

Editor's Pick - Respironics InnoSpire Essence Compressor Nebulizer System

Editor's Pick - Respironics InnoSpire Essence Compressor Nebulizer System

Highlights

  • Lightweight and compact design allows it to work both at home and on the go
  • Delivers medicine quickly and consistently
  • Affordable
  • 5-Year Warranty
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Editor’s Pick Overview

The Respironics InnoSpire Essence Compressor Nebulizer System provides an ideal mix of small size, affordability, and consistent medication delivery, making it Tuck’s Editor’s Pick. With a price point of less than $60, this lightweight (3.3 pounds) machine can be used both at home and while traveling.

The InnoSpire Essence system offers a great deal of flexibility. Users can choose between reusable or disposable SideStream nebulizers, which work in conjunction with the air compressor to deliver a steady stream of medication for faster treatments. The machine only has a few parts to disassemble for washing and sterilizing, so it’s easy to clean. Because it is an air compressor-type nebulizer, it is louder than other machines, but the portability and ease of use make up for the sound.

The InnoSpire Essence comes with an extra long 63-inch cord, and a 5-year warranty, making it our all-around top pick.

Good for:
  • People who want one nebulizer for home and trave
  • People on a budget
  • People who want an easy-to-use and maintain device

Best Portable- Philips Respironics Innospire Go Portable Mesh Nebulizer

Best Portable- Philips Respironics Innospire Go Portable Mesh Nebulizer

Highlights

  • Small and lightweight
  • Uses vibrating mesh technology to deliver medication quickly
  • Nebulizer automatically shuts off when treatment is complete, and provides an audible and visual alert to the user
  • Battery life is about 120 minutes, or an average of 30 treatments
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Best Portable Nebulizer Overview

MThe Philips Respironics Innospire Go Portable Mesh Nebulizer allows you to do your breathing treatments wherever you happen to be. This rechargeable battery-operated nebulizer uses quiet, vibrating mesh technology, which delivers medication without excess waste.

The Philips Respironics Innospire Go Portable Mesh Nebulizer can be used with either a mouthpiece or mask, and most treatments take less than 10 minutes. Treatment begins with just a touch of a button, and when it’s complete, the device automatically turns off after alerting the user with a light and sound.

This portable nebulizer weighs in at about a quarter pound and is the size of a deck of cards, so it can easily be slipped into a bag for easy access. A single battery charge provides about 120 minutes of treatment time. It meets safety standards for air travel, and comes with a 2-year warranty for the handset and a 1-year warranty on the mouthpiece.

Good for:
  • Travelers who need a lightweight nebulizer
  • People who want an easy-to-use nebulizer
  • Children who need help timing their treatments

Best Value - Figerm Cool Mist Nebulizer

Best Value - Figerm Cool Mist Nebulizer

Highlights

  • Includes mouthpiece and masks for both adults and children
  • Small and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Latex free, so it’s appropriate for people with latex allergies
  • 2-year warranty
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Learn more about the Figerm Cool Mist Nebulizer.
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Best Value Overview

The cost of nebulizers and breathing treatments can add up, but the Figerm Cool Mist Nebulizer offers plenty of value for your dollar. This nebulizer kit comes with mouthpieces and masks designed for both adults and children, making it a good option for families who need nebulizers for several family members.

This nebulizer is an atomizer stye, using air jets to turn medication into vapor. It works quickly, delivering about 0.2 mL of medicine per minute. It operates via electricity, but with the correct adaptors can be used in a vehicle. It weighs only 3 pounds, so it can be easily transported.

The manufacturer of the Figerm Cool Mist Nebulizer offers a 2-year, money-back warranty on the device.

Good for:
  • People on a budget
  • People who need a nebulizer for multiple family members
  • People who need fast medication delivery

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Nebulizer

Choosing the right nebulizer can make your breathing treatments simple and convenient. Read on to learn more about the different types of nebulizers and what to look for to make your decision easier.

What Are Nebulizers?

Living with a respiratory condition like asthma, COPD, or cystic fibrosis often means taking medication to relieve symptoms. In most cases, the best way to deliver this medication is directly to the lungs and respiratory system so it can work quickly to treat inflammation and congestion.

A nebulizer is a medical device that helps with this medication delivery by turning liquid prescription medications like corticosteroids, bronchodilators, and antibiotics into a fine mist or vapor that can be inhaled through a mouthpiece or mask. Nebulizers work by vibrating the medicine through a mesh screen, vibrating with ultrasonic waves, or by shooting jets of air through the medicine to turn it into vapor.

Nebulizers are similar to inhalers, which also send medication directly to the respiratory system. However, for people with severe respiratory issues, inhalers can be challenging to use because they require inhaling deeply. This isn’t always easy or possible.

Nebulizers, on the other hand, don’t require deep inhaling and only require the user to breathe normally until the treatment is complete. This means treatment can take longer with a nebulizer; in some cases up to 20 minutes, depending on the medication and dosage. That’s why some people use a nebulizer for their long-acting treatments and inhalers for emergency or rescue treatments, such as when they have an asthma attack.

Although they may use similar technology, nebulizers are not the same as concentrated oxygen generators. A concentrated oxygen generator produces oxygen for people who have low levels of blood oxygen by compressing oxygen from collected air and delivering it via plastic tubes placed inside the nostrils, called nasal cannula.

The air we breathe is typically about 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen, but the oxygen generator changes that balance using an air compressor and filters to reduce nitrogen and produce air that is around 95 percent oxygen. These generators run on electricity, and replace bulky oxygen tanks.

Pros and Cons of Nebulizers

  • Can be used regardless of airway inflammation
  • Nebulizers are easier to use than inhalers for some people
  • Less likely to be misplaced than inhalers
  • Nebulizers are often covered by insurance

Cons

  • Some research suggests inhalers may be just as effective as nebulizers
  • Portable nebulizers can be expensive
  • Nebulizer treatments take longer than using an inhaler

Different Types of Nebulizers

Type of Nebulizer Features Average Price
Tabletop Developed for home use, they typically weigh several pounds and require electricity for use. Mouthpieces or masks are connected to the compressor unit using tubing. $50-$100
Pediatric Designed for use by children. Generally have a smaller mouthpiece or mask, and may come in child-friendly colors or shapes (such as animal shapes). $50-$100
Handheld/Portable Smaller, lighter nebulizers that are usually handheld, and operate via battery power. Most will fit in a small bag and are very lightweight for traveling. Can be used with a mouthpiece or a mask. $150-$200

Nebulizer Care and Maintenance

Keeping your nebulizer clean and sanitary ensures it works as it should. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and sanitizing the device, but in general you should plan to clean your nebulizer after each use.

Rinse the mouthpiece or mask with warm water for 30 seconds, allow it to air dry for a few minutes, and run the air compressor to finish drying. Never rinse the tubing or compressor itself. Sterilize your mouthpiece or mask once a week with a recommended cleaning solution or a vinegar and water mixture.

Regularly inspect your nebulizer for damaged or worn parts. Although some parts of the device may appear to be working fine, follow the manufacturer recommendations for replacing filters, masks, tubes, and other parts.

Most nebulizers come with a specific storage container; only store the machine and accessories when they are completely dry, and keep them in a clean, sterile environment. Be sure to unplug your nebulizer when it’s not in use.

What Else Should You Consider When Buying a Nebulizer?

  • Speed: Although nebulizers are primarily intended for administering long-term maintenance medication, if you are having trouble breathing you want medication delivered quickly. Some nebulizers work more quickly than others, delivering a full treatment in under five minutes, while others work more slowly and can take up to 20 minutes to finish treatment.
  • Medication Delivery: Nebulizers work in several different ways, which can influence the speed and noise of the treatment. Atomizers, for instance, work by sending a jet of forced air through the liquid medication to create vapor. Ultrasonic wave nebulizers use high-frequency vibrations to create vapor, while vibrating mesh vaporizers have a screen with thousands of microscopic holes over the medicine, which vibrates to create mist.
  • Noise: Nebulizers with compressors tend to be the loudest, while ultrasonic wave models are practically silent.
  • Where It Will Be Used: Portable nebulizers are ideal for people who travel a lot or need to be able to do breathing treatments on the go.

Additional Resources

Learn more about how your breathing affects your sleep, and ways to improve your sleep by checking out these Tuck resources.

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