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Before I begin my review of a portable nebulizer machine, I want to first explain to you what it is used for and why it is so important. There are a few different types of lung diseases, however, for the purposes of this article, I will talk about the one that affects children the most and it is called “asthma.”
This article is not to be taken as medical advice. It is for informational purposes only and to guide you to your physician for medical evaluation and treatment.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a lung disease in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. This makes breathing very difficult and you may cough, have a wheezing or whistling sound when you breathe, and causes shortness of breath. Asthma knows no age limit, so both children and adults can be affected by it.
An episode of asthma may be precipitated by a trigger known as an allergy or other factor. Specific allergens may be pollen, mold, animal dander, dust or foods. Asthma may also be triggered by weather changes, respiratory infections, exercise, acid reflux or heartburn, or emotional stress.
Some interesting facts
Approximately 10% to 15% of children are affected by asthma. It accounts for 25% of school absences caused by chronic illnesses.
Signs and symptoms of an asthma attack
Episodes of asthma may start gradually or may come on suddenly. The signs and symptoms of an attack are as follows:
- Shortness of breath with prolonged exhalation
- Wheezing/whistling sound starting out only on exhale progressing to inhale and exhale and then no breath sounds.
- For the infant, there is a grunting sound to each breath
- Accessory muscle use (this is when you have seen the diaphragm muscle indenting with each breath as well as the upper torso muscles)
- Anxiety, irritability, and decreasing level of consciousness
- Blue lips and a bluish tint to the skin (this is caused by lack of oxygen)
Complications of asthma can be quite serious. For instance, asthma can cause chronic or constantly occurring upper respiratory infections involving the airway tubes leading to the lungs and thereby causing pneumonia. It can also be the culprit for causing emphysema [the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) are damaged and causing shortness of breath]. Another complication that can occur is right-sided heart failure. A complete or partial collapse of the entire lung or area (lobe) of the lung is yet another complication of this disease.
What to expect when you see your physician
If you or your child has had any of the above symptoms for asthma, you need to see your doctor right away. There could be other conditions starting to happen and therefore it is of utmost importance to be evaluated by a doctor.
For the sake of this article, we will look at what type of testing you can expect and what types of treatment are available to treat asthma. This is not a complete list of tests, as your doctor may determine further testing is necessary. Every person’s condition is unique and so this is only a general guide.
The doctor is going to do a series of blood tests looking for infections and your blood gas values. Blood gas values pertain to how you are excreting toxins that your lungs normally filter out. If your lungs are not working properly, it will show in this test. Blood gases or arterial blood gas values can be difficult to explain in a short article but know and understand that they play an extremely important part in the diagnosing process.
You will also undergo a chest x-ray looking for infection or another cause of worsening breathing problems.
A pulmonary function test (PFT) is a test that will measure lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. This information can help your healthcare provider diagnose and decide your treatment. Both the PFT test and peak flow meter test is usually done by a respiratory therapist. Your doctor will bring them into your care for this.
Peak flow meter monitoring is a portable, easy-to-use device that measures how well your lungs are able to expel air. By blowing a quick blast of air through a mouthpiece on one end, the peak flow meter can measure the force of air in liters per minute and give you a reading on a built-in numbered scale. This reading is used in evaluating the severity of your disease and helps to determine medication use.
Medications to treat asthma
There are medications and treatments that are available to treat asthma. Some of the medications are in pill form and contain a steroid which will reduce the swelling in your airways. They will help to maintain an open airway to reduce the chances of swelling. So this is considered a long-term control medication. This oral or pill form medication is typically used along with the inhaled medications.
For quick and fast acting relief, there are medications that are given by inhalers, a nebulizer and/or a nasal spray. This type of medication is for immediate relief in the event of an asthma attack.
The corticosteroids used in these medications are synthetic (made in a laboratory) hormones that are similar to the hormones your body makes and their function is to reduce swelling.
Taking care of a child with asthma
If you have a child with asthma, you will want to closely follow your physician’s advice and instructions from your respiratory therapist. There will be specific instructions on medications and inhaled steroids. You will be taught how to monitor your child’s oxygen levels and what to do in the event of an asthmatic attack.
You will want to always monitor your child for any signs or symptoms of an asthma attack. See the above list for these signs. You will be instructed by your health care provider or nurse when you need to seek emergency medical care. If your child is having difficulty breathing even after a breathing treatment, you need to get them seen by your provider or emergency room immediately. Also, try to keep yourself and your child as calm as possible.
Watch out for those triggers, whatever they may be for your child, and try to prevent exposure to them. If your child has been exposed to a trigger, be prepared to handle it with a fast-acting inhaler.
Those fast-acting inhalers are usually called albuterol inhalers. They are a handheld small device that you place in your mouth and give 2 quick puffs. They act quickly and should be on hand at all times.
Support groups are a great way to connect with other parents and children to learn how to cope with this condition. Children especially benefit from this because they get to make friends with others who have asthma. Check with your health care provider for more information and for a support group near you.
What is a nebulizer?
A nebulizer turns a liquid into a very fine mist that a person can inhale through a face mask or mouthpiece. The liquid is a medication your doctor prescribes for your breathing problem. The medications are steroids which will open up your airways. These medications are namely albuterol, Xopenex or Pulmicort. Your provider will determine which one is appropriate and prescribe them for you. He will also tell you how many times each day you should use it. There are many nebulizers on the market, however, I recommend getting a portable one so you can easily travel with it.
If you are looking for a portable nebulizer, you can purchase yours here!
This portable nebulizer weighs 4.6 pounds so you can take it anywhere. It is very quiet running. This nebulizer is for both adults and children. It comes with an adult-sized and children-sized mask. It comes with the medicine cup, tubing, filters, and mouthpiece.
Asthma is a lung disease that affects many people including children. Along with treating this disease, obtaining emotional support is equally important. Breathing issues tend to always cause high anxiety and nervousness. This is part of your body’s reaction to this form of stress. Talk to your doctor or social worker to find a good support group near you for your child and yourself.
I hope you found this article helpful and it has answered a question or two you may have had. Please feel free to leave your questions or comments below and I will respond promptly.