“Moms aren’t going to pack a nebulizer” – uh, yes. Yes, we do.

I recently had a doctor tell me that asthma inhalers are just as good as nebulizers for treating asthma attacks. And that moms aren’t going to pack a nebulizer in their purse. Ummm… yes.  Yes, we are.

My inhaler is in my purse, but the nebulizer travels in my car – and it should have souvenir stickers on it! It’s traveled a LOT in 17 years – to Grandma’s (5-hour drive away), the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, beach, etc.

I have heard a lot of debate about what is the best device to use during an asthma attack  – a nebulizer or an inhaler?

I tried to find a newer study, but could only find one from 2005 from the Journal of Family Practice 

It says:

“EVIDENCE-BASED ANSWER:Metered-dose inhalers with a spacer (MDI/S) are as good as, or better than, nebulizers for children with asthma. This is based on numerous randomized controlled trials that compared outcomes such as hospital admission rates, asthma severity scores, and pulmonary function scores (strength of recommendation: A, based on consistent randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis).”

I hate to disagree with researchers, but yeah….I’m going to. The thing that I find interesting about researchers is that they are just that – researchers. Do they actually HAVE ASTHMA? Do they know what it feels like to have an asthma attack?

Nebulizer or inhaler?

I have found that there are times when I am REALLY sick and breathing shallow (I can’t take a deep breath.) So there’s NO WAY I can breathe in deep enough to use my inhaler. Only a nebulizer will help. With my nebulizer, I can just sit there for 10 minutes and slowly breath in the albuterol mist 

There are also times when I get a sudden bad asthma attack due to my usual triggersperfume, smoke, cold temperatures, etc. My asthma attack will start out like a little tickle in the back of my throat that makes me want to cough – but nothing happens when I cough. Then the coughing gets worse to the point that I can’t catch my breath and feel like I’m going to throw up because I’m coughing so hard. By this point, I am panicking.

Once again, that is NOT the time for me to try to use my asthma inhaler. I know that I can’t breathe in deep enough to use my inhaler. I have tried it. As soon as I put my inhaler to my lips and breathe in, I instantly cough the medicine back out.

So for me, a nebulizer works best if I am very sick or it is a sudden, severe asthma attack. And I have noticed the same thing with my 3 kids. I have had many times over the last 17 years of treating them to see which one works best on them too.

There are times when our inhalers are the perfect choice and work well for us. But there are other times when only the nebulizer will do. Am I going against what the research shows is SUPPOSED to work better? Yes! That’s the sort of rebel I am! But I know what works for me and my children.

Only you can decide which to use and when. You know your body and what works best for it. Talk to your doctor and let him know how you feel. I am lucky because Asthma Doc always listens to me and wants what’s best for me – a life with my asthma under control.

So, what is best for you? Inhaler or nebulizer?

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

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