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Nebulizer Mask

Advantages and Disadvantages

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A nebulizer machine is used to deliver a liquid (solution) medication via inhalation directly into the lungs. It does this by converting the liquid drug into a fine mist. The mist travels up a tube and is eventually inhaled using a face mask, mouthpiece, or another accessory.   They typically use oxygen in this process but may also use compressed air.

Making a decision on whether to use a nebulizer mask or a mouthpiece should start with your healthcare professional but the following information is intended to help you to understand the differences between these delivery systems.

What Is a Nebulizer Mask?

A nebulizer mask looks and is very similar to a regular oxygen mask commonly used in the hospital. Unlike a mouthpiece, it covers the mouth and nose and is usually held onto the face using an elastic band.

Nebulizer treatments are commonly used by people who have respiratory disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis.

There are many different types of medications that can be nebulized including glucocorticoids, bronchodilators, antibiotics, and even just plain saline which is used to thin mucus secretions. Examples of some of the most commonly used medications include albuterol and budesonide.

Nebulizer machines require some training to be used properly, you should receive this training from your doctor, nurse, or respiratory therapist prior to use. It is also important that medications which should not be mixed are not mixed and that the proper amount of medications are used.

Advantages of a Nebulizer Mask

The elastic band holding the mask in place makes it easier to be used passively because unlike a mouthpiece it doesn’t have to be held in place. This is especially helpful for people who may be too weak to hold the mouthpiece or lack the necessarily mobility to do so.

Some people may simply prefer the mask because it allows them to retain the use of their hands throughout the duration of the treatment.

It is widely thought that most infants and very small children are dependent nose breathers or at least prefer to breathe from their noses.   It stands to reason that in this age group a mask is more effective than a mouthpiece at delivering inhaled medications since they are not breathing in through the mouth at all.

Unlike a mouthpiece, the mask does not require you to breathe in a very specific way. When you use a mouthpiece the correct method of breathing is in through the mouth and out through your nose.

For small children or those who may have special needs, such as a learning disability, this could be challenging. Not only must you be able to follow these instructions but it requires a certain amount of continual concentration throughout the duration of the treatment.  

Disadvantages of a Nebulizer Mask

One disadvantage of using a nebulizer mask versus a mouthpiece is that the mask can sometimes interfere with your ability to see properly. This is especially true if the mask is large for your face.

A mask that fits incorrectly can also cause discomfort and allow the medication to escape out the sides of the mask, making the treatment less effective. In fact, the specific way that you need to breathe through a mouthpiece may alone makes it more effective at delivering the medication than a mask.

Other disadvantages of a nebulizer mask are that the mask may be harder to keep clean than a mouthpiece. The plastic used for a face mask is less durable than the material used to construct a mouthpiece which may result in a shorter life of the product.  

Maintaining Your Mask and Nebulizer

Nebulizers need proper maintenance and cleaning to make sure that bacteria or other germs do not grow inside of the machine which may then inadvertently be inhaled into your lungs.

Only distilled water should be used in your nebulizer machine and to clean accessories such as a face mask. This helps to prevent the growth of germs and prolongs the life of your equipment.

You can soak most of your machine parts and the mask in a solution of 2 parts distilled water and 1 part vinegar and then place them on a clean towel to dry.  

You should never clean your mask by placing it in boiling water (although some machine parts may be safely cleaned this way) because the type of plastic used to make the masks cannot withstand the heat and the mask will lose its shape.  

A nebulizer mask is an alternative to a traditional mouthpiece for nebulizer treatment. Learn the advantages and disadvantages, and how to clean it.

Cannabis nebulizers: healthier alternative to smoking or vaping?

A nebulizer is a device that delivers a mist of medicine that’s easily inhaled into the lungs

Nebulizers have been used for a number of respiratory illnesses for decades Photo by yodiyim / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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    Anyone who knows someone with severe asthma might recognize a nebulizing diffuser. If not, the device is likely a complete mystery.

    A nebulizer is a device that delivers a mist of medicine that’s easily inhaled into the lungs. Nebulizers have been used for respiratory illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even cystic fibrosis for decades. They have proved an efficient way to administer medication to the body without irritating the lungs and throat.

    Cannabis nebulizers: healthier alternative to smoking or vaping? Back to video

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    “Nebulizing is a process where an aqueous medication (liquid, usually water-based) is aerosolized by bubbling air or oxygen through it, so that a patient can breathe it in,” explains Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician and cannabis therapeutics specialist who is also president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists and CEO at inhaleMD, a patient-focused clinical practice in Massachusetts.

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    Some pluses, some minuses

    Nebulizing is the only pulmonary delivery method that doesn’t require heating or combustion of the cannabis product Photo by Laboko / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Rather than heating cannabis as one would by vaporizing or smoking, nebulizing sends compressed air through a specially formulated cannabis solution and turns it into micro particles, which are one to five microns in size, that can be inhaled into the lungs. These cannabis solutions vary, but some research shows they can contain sodium electrolytes to help with the nebulizing process, small amounts of ethanol to dilute the oil and emulsifiers like sodium lauryl sulphate (which is often found in toothpaste), as well as water.

    Nebulizing is the only pulmonary delivery method that doesn’t require heating or combustion of the cannabis product. And unlike edibles, dosage can be controlled, too, which is especially beneficial for those using cannabis medically.

    But the problem is that standard cannabis flower or oil cannot be put into a nebulizer. “Cannabis and its extracts are hydrophobic; they don’t like water,” says Dr. Tishler. “So nebulization will not work for cannabis, at least not for simple cannabis extracts.”

    Innovations are being made and some companies have claimed to have created nebulizers specifically for cannabis use, as well as a standardized solution.

    “There’s a whole industry now looking at water solubilization technology,” says Yaron Eshel, director of life sciences for iCAN: Israel-Cannabis. “So how do I get this oil and make it into very small molecules so that the body can absorb it? It’s called nanoencapsulation. It’s very standardized in the drug industry, very standardized in the food industry,” Eshel explains.

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    Within the cannabis industry, however, the process of nanoencapsulation is still in its infancy. There are some products popping up on the market. For example, Pearl2o is a water-soluble THC and CBD solution that is odourless and tasteless, which makers say can be used in cooking and drinks, or in the company’s nebulizer system.

    CannaNeb also offers a nebulizer that it reports can use glycerin or medium-chain triglyceride oil-based CBD. Meanwhile, Ci Therapeutics, a partnership between iCAN: Israel-Cannabis and CannRX, hastwo prototype nebulizing devices: one for recreational use and one for medical use.

    Hope is nebulizers become the gold standard

    Some suggest nebulization is one of the most effective forms of pulmonary delivery that doesn’t involve heat Photo by Tharakorn / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Eshel has worked with iCAN: Israel-Cannabis for three years, coming from a previous career in quality assurance and regulatory affairs in the medical field, dealing with devices like stents and hip replacements. Passionate about high-grade medical devices that can improve quality of life, he believes that nebulization is one of the most effective forms of pulmonary delivery that doesn’t involve heat.

    Eshel, for one, says he hopes nebulizers will become the gold standard, offering a scent-free, taste-free and healthier alternative to smoking or vaping.

    Updated: April 09, 2019

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    The ability to nebulize cannabis is coming, but there’s still a ways to go