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What is a nebuliser?

A nebuliser is a medical device which uses mechanical energy to transform liquid medication into an aerosol for inhalation. An aerosol is a mist of fine droplets. Nebulisers (sometimes spelt 'nebulizer') are used in the clinical treatment of conditions like asthma, bronchitis, COPD, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and chest infections.

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Why do I need one?

Your doctor will have diagnosed a breathing difficulty which is best treated by medicine which can be inhaled into the lungs. To reach the parts of the lungs where the medicine can be effective, it must be in very fine droplets - less than 5µ in diameter.

Your medicine might be a reliever (a bronchodilator such as salbutamol, or ipratropium), or a steroid preventer, an antibiotic or something else. Your doctor or healthcare specialist will guide you on exactly which medicines to use and how.

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What types are there?

Nebulisers are traditionally compressor driven jet-nebulisers, in which compressed air forced through a nozzle breaks liquid up into long strands which collapse into tiny globules - hopefully, under 5µ in diameter, and plenty of them! Other methods have been put forward as alternatives, and over the last 25 years, AFP Medical has researched and developed many new techniques. However, we have always found alternatives problematic. For instance, ultrasonic types are afflicted by too much liquid residue and overheating of the medicine, and the vibrating-mesh types suffer with being terribly expensive for the patient.

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What is supplied with a nebuliser?

The nebuliser is actually the container into which the liquid medication is loaded for conversion to an aerosol. The nebuliser is connected to the compressor outlet with a tube.

The aerosol mist created by this process rises from the top of the nebuliser, and is delivered to the patient either through a facemask, or a connector which fits into the mouth. The choice of facemask or mouthpiece is usually left to patient preference - although a higher dose is delivered with a mouthpiece. Some medicines can affect the eyes if administered through a facemask, and so a mouthpiece is usually recommended for these.

AFP Medical nebulisers are supplied complete, with the compressor, the nebuliser, connection tube, a mouthpiece, and full patient information leaflet.

Your pharmacist will dispense the medication for a nebuliser, on prescription from a healthcare professional

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What models are available?

Nebuliser systems are either mains or battery operated. AFP Medical nebulisers sold in Europe are rated for 230V, which means they function normally in the range 207V to 253V. The mains frequency can either be 50Hz or 60Hz - meaning our models can also be used on any cruise ship with a 220V supply!

Battery operated models derive energy either from an internal rechargeable battery, or an external 12V DC supply such as a car or boat battery: or an external "add-on" battery module. Take care when choosing! Some models are advertised at a price which does not include "add-on" battery. Naturally, you can trust AFP Medical not to do this - our battery model has an internal rechargeable battery included in the price.

Mains models are often available in standard and high output versions. To be effective, standard models should have an output exceeding 6 l/min at a pressure of 1.0 bar. This should be fine for nebulising single doses of most nebuliser medicine up to four times a day. For multiple-dose treatments, or use more than four times a day, a high-output model is desirable. AFP Medical's high-output model, the Aquilon+, develops 9.0 l/min at 1.0 bar, more than adequate to cope with such demands. These models are also used particularly for antibiotics and similar medicine with relatively high viscosity.

The best output is usually achieved from piston-pump mechanisms rather than the cheaper diagphragm type pumps. AFP Medical only manufactures piston compressors.

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What should I replace on a nebuliser?

The nebuliser, or medication chamber, should be washed out thoroughly and left to dry after every use. Even so, they wear out with repeat use. They must therefore be replaced from time to time, following instructions which vary widely from one brand to another. AFP Medical's Aquineb is dishwasher safe, and will generally last about six months with up to four uses a day. We recommend you also change the connection tube and facemask or mouthpiece at the same time. We supply these in handy pack sets.

Most compressor nebulisers have an inlet filter which must be replaced, typically every 3 months or so. There is a cost for these filters, and you should bear that running cost in mind when searching for an economic brand to purchase! AFP Medical models produced starting in 2012 have a new filter material which can be washed by the patient, and never needs replacing. Think of how much that can save over the life of the machine!

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Compressor Design

Valves

Nebuliser compressors use valves to control the flow of compressed air within the pump system. AFP Medical nebulisers have used steel valves for over 25 years. These have consistently proved to last longer and be more reliable than synthetic versions. The synthetic versions are prone to harden with use and time. Steel valves are more expensive, but then high-quality design usually is!

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The noise!

Try as we - and everyone else - might, the silent jet nebuliser simply does not yet exist. However, AFP Medical's technical design advantages contribute to making our nebulisers quieter than any other equivalent model on the market today.

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