In the world of medical equipment and supplies for home use, there are some machines that are very similar. Breathing machines are a general category of medical equipment, all of which assist a person in breathing fully and completely. Under this subheading, you have CPAP machines and nebulizers. Here are their major differences and why you should never confuse the two when you need to rent or purchase one for home use.
CPAP machines have hoses and headgear you wear at night. The machines modulate air pressure and push air through the hoses, into your sinus cavities and down your throat to keep your esophagus open. The air that is pushed through is then breathed in, exchanged for carbon dioxide and exits the vent openings in the CPAP's mask. These machines keep you breathing when your sleep apnea would otherwise inhibit your ability to breathe. They DO NOT deliver any medications to your lungs or pulmonary system.
Nebulizers are typically worn for very brief periods during the day to deliver atomized medicine into the airway and lungs. Even though they look exactly like a CPAP machine and function in a very similar way, nebulizers have an added chamber below the mask and headgear that holds liquid medication. As the nebulizer runs, it turns the liquid medicine into a vapor, which the user of the nebulizer then breathes in. It too has vents in the mask for carbon dioxide exchange, but the distinguishing feature is the medicine chamber. Some nebulizers can also be set to run only five, ten, fifteen or twenty minutes, making it impossible for them to run all night or be left on indefinitely.
Why You Should Not Confuse These Two Breathing Machines When You Need to Rent or Purchase One
Both nebulizers and CPAP machines are often prescribed by pulmonologists. If you lose your prescription sheet before you go to a medical supply store, be sure you know which machine you need. Since one is used to help you breathe as you sleep all night, and the other is used to help you receive medicine for asthma, bronchitis, etc., they perform very different functions.
Getting a nebulizer instead of a CPAP machine means you will not be able to breathe easily all night and could suffocate yourself in your sleep. Getting a CPAP machine instead of a nebulizer means you will not be able to atomize your new medication and could end up in the hospital or worse. Make sure to clarify which machine you need with your doctor before making your purchase.