Should I use a nebuliser during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Health experts believe the use of a nebuliser may have spread the UK variant of the Coronavirus to others through airborne droplets as a nebuliser aerosolises virus particles.
Some experts have mentioned asthma in conversations about the nebuliser theory.
If you use a nebuliser as part of your asthma treatment, you may be confused about whether using your nebuliser is safe.
What are nebulisers used for in asthma treatment?
Nebulisers are machines which work by turning aqueous (liquid) medicines into a fine mist (aerosol) which is inhaled by the user to get benefit. They can be used to treat several lung health conditions where inhalation of nebulised medicine is the best or only way available. Asthma Australia provides education and support to allow consumers to make informed choices with their treating medical health care team. The Australian guidelines for managing asthma in general practice, recommend nebulisers are used only when absolutely necessary to deliver some of the routine medicines used in asthma management.
In other lung conditions, their guidelines may be different.
Why are nebulisers risky in virus transmission?
By design, nebulisers carry a higher risk of transmitting viral infections. They generate an aerosol (mist) that can carry infectious virus particles, if being used by a person with a virus. These particles are misted into the air, can spread for several metres, and remain airborne from 30 minutes to several hours.
Infectious viral particles can survive for up to 72 hours on stainless steel and up to 48 hours on plastic surfaces.
You cannot catch COVID-19 from using your personal nebuliser machine. Sharing equipment is not recommended so only you should be using it.
If you are positive with COVID-19 and you use a nebuliser, you could spread COVID-19 throughout your home environment.
Using a nebuliser safely during COVID-19
Here’s 7 things we need people with asthma to consider when using a nebuliser at home;
- Do you need your nebuliser or could you use a puffer and spacer instead? If you would like more help with this, you can call us on 1800 ASTHMA for more information so you can discuss all the options in line with the guidelines, with your doctor.
- If you need to use a nebuliser
- Ensure you follow all COVID-19 safe hygiene practices and health advice to protect against COVID-19.
- Many people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms of the infection, so it’s important to always think about where you use your nebuliser and use it away from shared family/group areas where possible.
- If nebulising in a closed room, make sure other people do not enter the room for at least 30 minutes after use.
- Clean all communal surfaces with disinfectant after using the nebuliser.
- If you need others to help you with your nebuliser, ask them to wear a N95 facemask while you are using the nebuliser and for 30 minutes after use if they are in the same room as you.
- If you are worried about your access to nebulisers, or using your nebuliser for asthma during this time, you can talk to an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462).