A nebuliser is a medical device used in the treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory disorders. Nebuliser treatment normally takes place in hospitals as a way of treating acute conditions in emergency situations, but some patients will also be prescribed nebuliser treatment for use in the home. The medication that is provided in the nebuliser is reliever medication at high doses, although steroids may also be delivered this way. The idea is that the nebuliser delivers the medication in the form of an aerosol which is easily inhaled, however it is generally accepted that using an inhaler with a spacer for around five puffs provides the same level of treatment.
Patients should only ever use a nebuliser when instructed to do so by a doctor or nurse, as they are powerful drug delivery systems and should not be used without supervision. Almost all users have to buy their own nebuliser as they are not available on the NHS. However, patients should be able to buy them VAT free and some NHS funding is available although by no means guaranteed.