Nebulizer vs Inhaler: What Are Their Differences?

As someone just recently required to use medically assisted breathing devices, understanding the differences between a nebulizer vs inhaler could be challenging. 

Although both can assist with alleviating respiratory distress, they differ in several aspects.

This guide will explore both medicine delivery systems to help you know which type of device is best for you.

We’ll also talk about ProNebu’s Mesh Portable Nebulizer and how it stands out from the competition.

What Is a Nebulizer?

Through nebulization, these devices take liquid medicine and turn it into a fine mist, which is then inhaled through the mouthpiece.

Most nebulizers are either electric or battery-operated and come in different sizes.

Some models are small and portable for travel, while others are larger and are known as “desktop” or “tabletop” devices.

You might find clinicians leaning towards nebulizers more because they don’t require much experience, making them ideal for beginners and young children.

The Beauty of the ProNebu Mesh Portable Nebulizer

One device intuitively designed for patients requiring a nebulizer is the ProNebu Mesh Portable Nebulizer.

Made without an air source or tubes, this travel-friendly device has a ton of fantastic features.

What’s more, its medication delivery is exceptional, effectively atomizing particles to less than 5um.

Another massive edge this unit has over others is the fact that it’s residue-free, making maintenance simpler.

Also, you can decide whether you prefer the included mouthpiece or mask for comfortable drug administration.

Ideal for adults, kids, and seniors, this nebulizer can make a huge difference to your whole experience.

How Do You Use a Nebulizer?

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the steps to using a nebulizer:

Step 1: The first step to using a nebulizer machine is to add your dose of liquid medicine to the device.

Step 2: When you turn the machine on, it will start to transform the liquid into a mist. These fine aerosols travel through a tube and then out the mouthpiece.

Step 3: Some types of nebulizers require you to wear a face mask or have oral tubes you insert into your mouth.

Face masks are often preferred, especially for young children, because they are non-invasive.

Step 4: Once inserted, the device delivers liquid mist directly into your lungs, offering optimal drug delivery.

With the help of your clinician, you will be given a specific regimen to receive your liquid asthma medicine.

Some patients have several treatments daily, while others may have one or two 15- to 20-minute sessions daily.

Another fantastic feature of nebulizers is that you can use them while doing other daily activities like reading, as long as you stay relaxed.

nebulizer vs inhaler difference

What Is an Inhaler?

Inhalers are another commonly prescribed asthma medication helpful for various respiratory illnesses and lung conditions.

Interestingly, there are different types of inhalers based on various respiratory diseases, such as:

Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)

Metered dose inhalers are the most common type of inhaler you will find.

They offer a specific dose of medicine into your system, similar to an aerosol can when the device is activated.

Controlled Inhaler

Individuals with severe asthma and recurring shortness of breath could be prescribed a controlled inhaler.

These devices are often used twice daily and help prevent inflammation and frequent flareups. You might use them before intense activities like exercising or working outdoors.

Dry Powder Inhaler

With a dry powder inhaler, the medicine will be in powder form instead of a sprayable mist. When used, the patient must inhale the powder quickly and as deeply as possible.

Rescue Inhaler

The last type of inhaler for lung disease and other respiratory issues is a rescue inhaler.

These devices are best for quick relief and are often kept as a backup inhaler.

They deliver medicine extremely quickly to alleviate wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

How Do You Use an Inhaler?

As you can see, there are several ways and times when using an inhaler can be helpful, depending on the type.

However, most of these devices are structurally the same and require specific steps for use. These steps include:

Step 1: Shake the inhaler for approximately five seconds to ensure the most effective medication delivery.

Then, remove the cap and check that the mouthpiece is debris-free.

Step 2: Next, asthma patients must exhale, ensuring as much oxygen is removed from their lungs as possible. This guarantees the medication delivery is as effective as possible.

Step 3: As you place the inhaler’s mouthpiece into your mouth, use your lips to create a tight seal.

Then, inhale while pressing the inhaler button simultaneously. You will need to continue inhaling deeply until the medicine has been fully expelled.

Step 4: Once finished, replace the mouthpiece, ensuring it’s tightly sealed. You may also want to consider rinsing your mouth, but doing this depends on your prescribed medicine.

Inhalers can take some trial and error to use effectively. In fact, it is common for patients to push the button too early, leading to an ineffective medicine dosage.

It may also be challenging for children to comfortably fit the mouthpiece into their mouths, which is where oral spacers can be helpful.

With the assistance of your doctor, these hand-held devices can be convenient and easy to use.

Nebulizer vs Inhaler: Exploring the Differences

Let’s get deeper into their differences by getting a general idea of how both types of devices work and when a healthcare provider may prescribe them.

We will explore all their advantages below to better understand how they differ.

The Pros of Using an Inhaler

We will explore all their advantages below to better understand how they differ.


The portability of your dose of medication has lots to do with convenience, especially if you travel frequently.

An inhaler could be preferred because you can keep it safe and secure in a pocket or purse.

Nebulizers, even travel-size ones, may require more components, making them more challenging for travel.

Treatment Speed

The general design of an inhaler is to provide the proper dose of medication incredibly quickly.

All inhalers are much faster than a nebulizer, delivering medication effectively. This is why more people use an inhaler daily rather than carrying around a nebulizer.

This is particularly important for people who deal with frequent asthma attacks. With devices like rescue inhalers, you can get faster treatment than a nebulizer.

Power and Charging

With inhalers, dosage delivery is always ready to go and is another massive reason they can be helpful.

You will never have to worry about plugging the device into a wall or recharging batteries while on the go.

This means patients can always have access to their asthma medication whenever it’s needed.


Maintaining an inhaler is considerably easier than keeping your nebulizer clean.

With common nebulizers, you have different tubes and medicine ports that must be thoroughly sanitized after every use.

This is particularly important if the patient is ill with a contagious ailment.

On the other hand, inhalers have a single mouthpiece that needs to be wiped or sanitized before use.

The Pros of Using a Nebulizer

Although inhalers can be a device of choice for many, nebulizers may offer a more effective delivery method depending on your illness.

As one of the most popular hand-held medical devices today, let’s look into the pros of a nebulizer.

Easy to Use for Children

Nebulizers are often the preferred option for delivering medication formulated for regulating breath in children.

That is because they are straightforward and require little experience to master.

Parents with children find nebulizer masks easy to fit, and they feel they have more control over the amount of medicine their children receive.

Versatile Design

Although nebulizers aren’t as portable as inhalers, they offer more versatility during your treatments.

You can do a nebulizer treatment while completing other activities as long as you are at rest.

For example, you can sit and read your favorite book, watch TV, or even assist with health conditions while the patient is asleep.

Mask Fit

One of the largest concerns with inhalers is whether children can fit their mouths around the mouthpiece to create a tight seal.

Without one, the medicine may seep at the sides, leading to ineffective treatment.

When comparing nebulizers versus MDIs and other inhalers, the mask fit is exceptionally better with nebulizers.

Medicine Delivery

Undoubtedly, inhalers can offer faster relief than nebulizers with a shorter period of respiratory care.

Still, it is important to note that any type of nebulizer can offer a more efficient medicine delivery.

Patients have found that their medicine travels deeper and more effortlessly with these devices.

Is a Nebulizer or Inhaler Right for You?

When deciding between a nebulizer vs inhaler, your healthcare provider will recommend the best method of delivery based on your illness.

Both devices have many benefits and ensure the most effective medicine delivery. With the ProNebu Mesh Portable Nebulizer, you get the medicine delivery of a nebulizer paired with the portability of an inhaler, offering the best of both worlds.

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