British Lung Foundation
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This question has come up a couple of times during the past 24 hours so thought I would write a general post about it.

In an ideal world those of us who need to use these machines should get them supplied by our doctors or respiratory teams. There is no such thing as an ideal world unfortunately, and so it very much depends on whether your local doctor or respiratory teams can afford to provide you with one on a long term loan basis. Nebulisers are not available on the NHS, and for the time I have been using them which is now 22 years they never have been.

There lots of different types of nebulisers out there to purchase and for the newbie it can be a minefield. So has a long term user who has bought various types, and made some expensive mistakes thought a little guidance may well be useful.

The traditional nebuliser that some of us may have come across in hospital, clinics or the GP practice is the compressor. This draws in air and compresses it to make the medicine in the nebuliser turn into a vapour. They tend to be a little noisy but are good work horses for every day use. Some compressors are made purely to be used on mains electricity in the home, and others are multi-purpose and can be used on a battery or plugged into a car cigarette lighter.

Next come the Ultra Sonic Nebulisers, these too can be used at home, car or battery, they use ultra sonic power to break up the liquid and turn it into breathable vapour. These machines are much quieter that the traditional compressor nebulisers, and do not stand up so well to heavy duty use. Manufacturers claim that they do, but in my own experience have owning 3 over the years, find these are much more suitable for light use. They are also much more fiddley to clean, and you have to be careful in how you touch certain pieces because mesh plates can damage easy and are expensive to replace.

Finally you have the new breed of nebuliser the "Mesh" Nebuliser, these are tiny little machines, pocket size is a good description (battery powered. but can be purchased with electrical adaptors). Again they are advertised as being suitable for every day use, my experience says totally different. They are okay if you only need to neb salbutamol, and want to pop out for a few hours, okay to stow in your hand bag or pocket for a night out. But again depending on the design you buy (some are easier to assemble and disassemble) they can be fiddley, also if you touch the mesh cap with your fingers, you risk damaging the nebuliser and having to replace an expensive part, average cost £40.

If you are newbie in the nebuliser world I would say consult your respiratory team/nurse. I wouldn't advise GP to be honest because this is not their specialist area and you will be surprised how little they know what is available out there.

You can buy nebulisers from a variety of places, chemists (though I find these are always more expensive), direct from the manufacturer, or a nebuliser specialist and Amazon UK. If you are a newbie I would say go to a nebuliser specialist, they will guide you through what is available by the information you have provided to them.

Don't buy from outside the UK, in my experience if your product goes wrong it is a nightmare to sort out, and I have made this mistake twice. Always buy a well known brand of nebuliser, some of the following are names to consider:-

Clement Clarke, Omron, Pari

All of the above do sell to the public!

Nebuliser supplier is "Evergreen Nebulisers Limited 01942 701210

Nebulisers are VAT Free for the chronically sick/disabled

Finally nebulisers can be expensive, so if you have home contents insurance very often like your camera, cam corder or any other thing you might take out with you they can be covered at no extra cost, though always check with your insurance company.

Sorry for such a long post, but I have written to a couple of posters in the past 24 hours who have been a little mystified, so thought a general post may be useful.

Hope those who read it find it useful, and if there is anything I have missed please feel free to add.

Cheers Daxie Mad

18 Replies

One thing I'll add is that you should ensure that you really need a nebuliser. They're not the sort of thing you want to be buying if you don't.

I've used them a few times, but that's tended to be at the hospital or a couple of times at my GP's, before I learned to slow down and not rush things, as that was my problem. I don't need one at home - yet. Because I've got used to my medication, taking it regularly and making sure I'm not doing anything that could bring on serious SOB and therefore need a nebuliser,

Added to that, you need a prescription for the medication to put in them.

As always, your medical advisors will tell you more, if you need to buy a nebuliser of your own.


Always the voice of reason. Gordon. Have not been into site for some time. Seldom posted but appreciate information. Only 3rd exacerbation in 14 years so do look at all aspects of COPD. Medications, diet and exercise. Have home oxygen but try to perform some tasks without. Very slowly! Thank you for your input.


Cor, that was only 4 years ago since I wrote that :-)


If you need to use antibiotics as well as salbutamol you need to check the nebuliser is ok for both and you need different attachments.



Don't forget Henleys Medical Supplies they have one of the best Nebulizer/compressors on the market and not a fortune for their accessories either


Thanks Daxiemad for taking the trouble to pass on your experience so comprehensively.

This is the first time in my involvement with the blog that I have been able to say that my local health authority, Gloucestershire, must be ahead of the pack - they provided me with a Medix Actineb mains powered nebuliser for Ventolin on my first visit to the consultant.

As you said, it is a bit noisy but has been so far (7 months) completely reliable.

Recently too I bought an Omron Microair Pocket Nebuliser from Lloyds Pharmacy Online for £66.66 vat free including delivery because I was finding my Evohaler plus Aerochamber unsatisfactory when out and about - the pocket nebuliser is a bit demanding as to cleaning & sterilising but gives a much better result & is silent.

I hope this supplements your advice.



I too have a Microair. I run it under the tap and let it dry naturally. Then again I am just using it for salbutamol. This may be a bad thing...



Great info Daxie Mad and very helpful. Pete has a Pari from the Brompton and we will be taking it to be serviced on the 19th. xxxxx


Thank you for the advice about them and hope my hospital provide them xxx


I would just like to add to Serenityfrank's comment, I too am in Gloucestershire and got my nebuliser from my respitory nurse at my doctor's practice, they do need a yearly service which is done at Gloucester Royal Hospital via the surgery with a loan one while it's away for about a week. It's returned with a sticker to remind me when the next service is due. I think it is a good idea to inquire at the doctors practice or the occupational physiotherapy department before you spend out on one as we need as much help as we can get.


Everything I wanted to know about nebulisers - thanks


Many thanks for all information didn't know what they were or if I needed one. Think I'll stick with the aero chamber meantime


Thank you every one for contributing to my original post, I deliberately didn't talk about particular makes and models, because I didn't want to personally influence people's choice and thoughts on any particular make and model. In the past I have had a Omron Microair and loved it, died through because of 5 years hard labour, found it very easy to use, but my replacement was dreadful and Omron equally so, in sorting it out. This kind of information could easily put off a new buyer, but others on here have had good experiences of it. So I think it is best to let the personal user to decide what is best for them. Malcom thank you for suggesting Henleys as a neb supplier, I have never heard of them, so shall look them up too.


nebulizers are available on nhs i got mine from hospital respiroty team .

The backup is poor if you need mask or fillters may aswell buy your own .

ive found respreonics bes neb with a one year mask if kept clean and boild

Your hospital consultant can arange nebulizer for yoy but you only get what they have

Hope this helps bob


They are not available in all parts of the country on the nhs. If your hospital/GP surgery has a "friends of" group that raises money to buy equipment then they may buy some to loan out but this is not everywhere. In my area they don't.


Hi Daxie mad , what a brilliant , helpful post , i am lucky and get my neb machine from HSE ( irish equivalent of NHS ) but if i come back to UK it will be something i would possibly have to sort out as i have been on a nebuliser for 20 odd years . thank you on behalf of all those who are less fortunate than me and have to buy one xxxx Dinny xxxx


Hi Daxiemad. A brilliant post. I dont need a nebuliser (yet) but will save your information for the future.

I'm sure it will help a lot of folk on here. xx


Thanks so much for a very informative post. There are always newbies needing advice and support. Had an exacerbation and ended up in hospital. May be used up to 4times a day but only using once since home. I thank you again for your help


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