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How does nebulizer therapy help COPD patients?

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Quick Answer

Nebulizers deliver aerosol medications as a mist, making it easier for people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to receive a full dosage without any complication, Healthline explains. While handheld inhalers are effective, young children, seniors, and people with cognitive or physical limitations often find them more difficult to use correctly. The patient simply inhales through the nebulizer mouthpiece or mask at his own pace, without the need for coordinated hand movements or breathing techniques.

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In a 2002 study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, researchers determined that COPD patients frequently used inhalers incorrectly, reducing the effectiveness of symptom relief, according to Healthline. On the other hand, pneumatic nebulizers proved effective with less patient training, prompting researchers to recommend nebulizers over inhalers for late-stage patients who are more likely to have a higher frequency of symptoms. Bronchodilators and corticosteroids are the most common medications used in nebulizer therapy, but these devices can also deliver antibiotics and other inhaled drugs.

Bronchodilators are available in short- or long-acting variants, both of which improve breathing by relaxing muscles in the respiratory system, Mayo Clinic states. Long-acting medications, such as formoterol and tiotropium, are useful for daily health management, while short-acting medications, such as albuterol and ipratropium, can help prepare the lungs for short-term physical activity. Corticosteroids, such as fluticasone, relieve inflammation in the airways to reduce symptoms.

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