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What are the Different Types of Nebulisers?

What are the Different Types of Nebulisers?

, by Aussie Pharma Direct, 7 min reading time

Traditionally, nebulisation therapy was primarily associated with hospital settings, offering a vital tool for managing various respiratory conditions. While those with severe cases may still require hospital care for nebulisation treatments, advancements in respiratory technology have opened up a world of convenience and accessible home care. 

Today, a variety of nebulisers are available for home use, allowing individuals with respiratory issues to manage their symptoms effectively in the comfort of their own homes. This shift not only improves accessibility to effective treatments but also allows for proactive symptom management.

What are nebulisers and how do they work?

Nebulisers are invaluable tools in respiratory care, offering relief and support to individuals grappling with various pulmonary conditions. Essentially, how these devices work is by transforming liquid medication into a fine mist, allowing it to be inhaled directly into the lungs.

This method of delivery is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with traditional inhalers, such as young children, the elderly, or individuals with severe respiratory distress.

The different types of nebulisers

1. Compressor or jet nebulisers

Mechanism: Compressor nebulisers, also known as jet nebulisers, utilise compressed air or oxygen to aerosolise liquid medication into a fine mist.

Operation: A compressor-driven system generates pressurised air, which is forced through a narrow tube or jet, creating a high-velocity airflow. This airflow passes over the surface of the liquid medication in the nebuliser chamber, causing it to break up into tiny droplets that form an aerosol.

Features: Compressor nebulisers typically consist of a compressor unit, tubing, a medication cup or chamber, and a mouthpiece or mask for inhalation.

Compatible medications: Jet nebulisers are compatible with a wide range of medications, including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics.

Advantages: Jet nebulisers are reliable, cost-effective, and suitable for delivering various types of medication. They're also easy to clean and maintain.

Considerations: They may produce more noise compared to other types of nebulisers and require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

2. Ultrasonic nebulisers

Mechanism: Ultrasonic nebulisers use ultrasonic vibrations to transform liquid medication into a fine mist.

Operation: These nebulisers feature an ultrasonic transducer that emits high-frequency vibrations. These vibrations agitate the liquid medication, breaking it into tiny droplets that form an aerosol

Features: Ultrasonic nebulisers are typically compact and portable. They consist of a medication reservoir, an ultrasonic transducer, and a mouthpiece or mask for inhalation.

Compatible medications: Ultrasonic nebulisers are compatible with most medications used for respiratory conditions, including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and mucolytics.

Advantages: Ultrasonic nebulisers are quiet, efficient, and portable. They produce a finer mist then jet nebulisers, which can lead to faster medication delivery and improved lung deposition.

Considerations: Ultrasonic nebulisers may be more expensive than compressor nebulisers and require careful handling to avoid damage to the ultrasonic transducer. They may also have limitations in delivering certain types of medications, such as suspensions or viscous solutions.

3. Mesh nebulisers

Mechanism: Mesh nebulisers employ a mesh membrane with thousands of tiny holes to create a mist of medication.

Operation: These nebulisers feature a mesh membrane that vibrates at a high frequency. As the liquid medication passes through the mesh, it is aerosolised, forming a fine mist of droplets.

Features: Mesh nebulisers are compact, lightweight, and efficient. They typically consist of a medication reservoir, a mesh membrane, and a mouthpiece or mask for inhalation.

Advantages: Mesh nebulisers are silent, portable, and produce a consistent particle size, ensuring optimal medication delivery to the lungs. They are suitable for use with a wide range of medications, including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics.

Considerations: While mesh nebulisers offer many advantages, they may be more expensive than other types of nebulisers. Additionally, they require regular cleaning to prevent clogging of the mesh membrane and maintain optimal performance.

Which of these nebulisers are portable nebulisers?

Ultrasonic nebulisers and mesh nebulisers are both considered portable options for respiratory therapy, offering compact designs and battery-operated functionality that allow for easy transport and use on the go. These types of nebulisers are lightweight, quiet, and efficient, making them suitable for individuals who need respiratory treatment outside of the home environment, whether it's during travel, outdoor activities, or emergencies. 

Some of the best brands to consider that has a good range of mesh nebuliser or portable nebulisers are:

  • PARI 
  • Omron 
  • Medshop
  • E-Chamber (available at Aussie Pharma Direct)

Despite their similarities in portability, it's essential to note that there are also differences between ultrasonic and mesh nebulisers that you should be aware of. These differences can impact factors such as medication delivery efficiency, maintenance requirements, and suitability for specific types of medications.

Why you need to regularly clean and disinfect your nebulisers

Maintaining clean and disinfected nebulisers is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of respiratory therapy and safeguarding against potential health risks. Here's why it's important:

1. Preventing contamination

Nebulisers come into direct contact with respiratory medications, which can create an environment conducive to bacterial or fungal growth if not cleaned properly. Contaminated nebulisers can introduce harmful pathogens into the airways, leading to respiratory infections or exacerbations of existing conditions.

2. Ensuring efficacy

Residue from medications can accumulate in nebuliser components over time, affecting the device's performance and the delivery of medication to the lungs. Proper cleaning removes this buildup, ensuring that the nebuliser functions optimally and delivers the prescribed dose of medication effectively.

3. Extending lifespan

Regular cleaning and disinfection can prolong the lifespan of nebulisers by preventing corrosion, deterioration, or malfunction caused by residue buildup or microbial growth. Proper maintenance helps preserve the integrity of nebuliser components, ensuring reliable performance over time.

General tips on cleaning and disinfecting your nebulisers

Now that we understand the importance of cleaning and disinfecting nebulisers, let's explore some general tips to ensure proper maintenance:


  • After each use, disassemble the nebuliser according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Wash all parts that come into contact with medication with warm water and mild detergent.
  • Use a soft brush or sponge to remove any residue or deposits from the medication cup, tubing, and mouthpiece or mask.
  • Rinse all parts thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  • Allow the parts to air dry completely before reassembling the nebuliser for storage or future use.
  • Clean the exterior of the nebuliser unit with a damp cloth or disinfectant wipe to remove any spills or debris.


  • Regularly disinfect the nebuliser components to prevent bacterial growth and contamination.
  • Prepare a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water or use a commercially available nebuliser disinfectant solution.
  • Submerge the nebuliser parts in the disinfectant solution for the recommended duration, typically 15-30 minutes.
  • After disinfection, rinse all parts thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual disinfectant.
  • Allow the parts to air dry completely before reassembling the nebuliser for storage or use.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach-based disinfectants, as they may damage the nebuliser components.

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