Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness that spreads easily. It can be mild or severe, infecting the nose, throat, and sometimes, the lungs.
About eight percent of the U.S. population gets sick with the influenza virus each season.
Typically, you’ll need nothing more than rest, healthy food, and plenty of fluids to recover from the flu.
However, if you have moderate to severe symptoms, you may need to take medications.
This is why a lot of people ask, “Does nebulizer help flu patients?” The quick answer is yes.
It’s especially helpful for younger people with breathing problems due to congestion.
Let’s explore the benefits of nebulizer treatments in relieving flu symptoms and how ProNebu’s portable nebulizer can help.
What Is a Nebulizer?
Powered by electricity, the device turns liquid medicine into aerosols or mist, making it easy to deliver into the lungs through a mouthpiece.
Besides asthma, a nebulizer may be helpful for the treatment of other conditions like bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, and other lung diseases.
Does Nebulizer Help Flu Patients?
Even though a nebulizer may not be prescribed for flu, it may be used to relieve respiratory symptoms associated with the illness, such as excessive coughing.
It is specifically helpful for children who may have issues using handheld inhalers.
Moreover, a nebulizer treatment may assist with bad colds, infection, and other flu symptoms.
Flu and Asthma
For people with asthma, getting the flu can be more debilitating. Colds and flu can infect the lungs, increasing the likelihood of asthma attacks.
Asthma symptoms can be mild to severe. It may cause breathing problems and lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia.
This is where nebulizers come in. A nebulizer can assist with treating asthma and flu by:
- Helping open the airways
- Reducing inflammation
- Breaking up congestion
Another role of a nebulizer is to quickly provide your lungs with medication.
However, you must always talk with your doctor before using it and ensure you have the right type and dose of medication for you or your child.
Once the medication reaches the lungs, it gets absorbed right away.
As such, you may experience instant relief from cold or flu symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
Medicated vapors can also help break up mucus caused by the influenza virus or a respiratory flare-up.
Inhaler vs. Nebulizer for Flu
Inhalers are smaller, handheld devices also used for delivering puffs of medication directly to the lungs.
However, many patients find inhalers difficult to use, especially during severe respiratory issues like the flu.
The reason is that an inhaler must be aimed correctly for it to work.
It takes some coordination to use an inhaler, so it isn’t advisable for very young kids and babies.
In place of an inhaler, doctors recommend using nebulizers because the machine does all the legwork.
All the child has to do is breathe through the mask or mouthpiece. Even adults find nebulizers more convenient to use than inhalers.
You will only need to breathe normally for 10 to 20 minutes until all the medicine has been delivered.
How To Use a Nebulizer for Treating Flu
Using a nebulizer to treat flu symptoms isn’t rocket science. To help experience relief, follow these steps:
Step 1: Get a prescription medicine.
First and foremost, talk to your doctor.
Liquid medications come in different types, among the most common being albuterol, ipratropium, formoterol, budesonide, and hypertonic saline.
You’ll need your doctor’s prescription for these medications, who will also prescribe the right dose.
If your flu isn’t severe, you may be given sterile saline solutions instead of antibiotics.
Saline solutions clear your respiratory system by opening the airways, loosening mucus in the lungs, and thinning the secretions.
As a result, your coughing will get better or even clear up. If you don’t have a nebulizer yet, you will also need a prescription to get one.
Step 2: Wash your hands.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then, dry your hands with a clean towel.
Step 3: Set up your nebulizer.
Pour the liquid medicine into the nebulizer cup.
Most nebulizer medications come in a unit dose vial, corresponding to the exact amount of medicine needed.
Next, attach the nebulizer cup to the mouthpiece and connect it to the air compressor machine.
Make sure that the air compressor lays on a flat and well-ventilated surface. Do not place it on the floor as it can draw dust and allergens in.
Step 4: Start the therapy.
Plug the device into an electrical outlet, then turn the machine on. You will start to see a light mist.
You want to sit up in a comfortable position, place the mouthpiece in your mouth, and seal it with your lips.
If you’re using a mask, position it comfortably and securely on your face.
Breathe normally, but try to take deep breaths every now and then, holding for two or three seconds before breathing it out.
Doing this allows the medication to settle in the airways.
Do note that some medications may make you feel dizzy or jittery. This is normal, but if it continues to bother you, inform your doctor.
You or your child may have to nebulize three or four times a day as necessary.
Nebulizer Usage Tips for Better Results
While using a nebulizer is easy, consider these tips for the best results:
1. Breathe through your mouth.
Sit in a comfortable position so that you can breathe in and out properly.
To ensure the effectiveness of the medicine, you have to breathe through your mouth.
If you don’t, you will only end up with as much as what has been absorbed by your nasal lining.
Check out this video from the American Lung Association on how to properly use a nebulizer.
For toddlers, using a neb can be a little uncomfortable; you can have them watch a movie during the treatment.
Don’t nebulize your child while he is sleeping, as it will be hard for the drug to go where it needs to be.
2. Don’t loosen the face mask.
A mouthpiece is much preferable to a mask.
Since a face mask covers the entire face, it impedes your field of vision. Plus, the mist can also irritate the eye.
Some people also find the mask uncomfortable compared to a mouthpiece.
However, if what you have is a mask, make sure it fits nicely to your face so that no vapor gets out.
3. Make sure everything is clean.
If you haven’t used your nebulizer in a while, give it a good wash before use.
Use warm water and mild detergent or dishwashing soap, and then sterilize the neb cup and mouthpiece.
If you have a baby bottle sterilizer, that should work great.
For those who use a disposable nebulizer, disinfect it using a cold method like soaking the parts in hydrogen peroxide or vinegar-water solution beforehand.
4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure your device is working right.
The filter requires regular replacements. Fortunately, nebulizer filters are often covered by insurance.
If you are planning to buy supplies or replacement parts for your neb, check with your insurance provider first.
When To See a Doctor
The flu can last for several days up to a week, depending on the severity of your condition.
However, if you have a lingering cough that continues to worsen, it would be best to see a doctor for other options.
If you or your child continues to show signs of breathing difficulties, accompanied by a persistent cough, audible wheezing, and bluish skin, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
You should also seek emergency care if your flu is accompanied by vomiting, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, and choking.
ProNebu Portable Nebulizer
ProNebu’s portable nebulizer doesn’t require air tubing or an air compressor.
It is very slim and lightweight, so you can carry it around in your purse.
Use it around your house without having to plug it in, or take it to your trips, doctor’s visits, school, parks, and more to ensure you’re always prepared.
It’s perfect for both kids and adults. Plus, the device functions with either a USB or batteries.
Use Only Following Your Doctor’s Advice
How does nebulizer help flu patients?
Since the medicine gets delivered directly to your lungs, nebulizing can help relieve symptoms like coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulty, and congestion.
Make sure to follow the steps in using a nebulizer and have the correct type and dose of medicine for the best results.
You can also get a portable nebulizer like ProNebu’s to ensure you have a reliable nebulizer you take with you anywhere.