Aromatherapy vs. medical grade nebulizers

November 17, 2009 2 min read

There are many different kinds of nebulizers which can be used for a variety of reasons.  While medical grade nebulizers are often prescribed to treat respiratory conditions and are recommended for direct inhalation of nebulized medication, there are also nebulizers which are used for dispensing essential oils for aromatherapy. There are several differences in these kinds of nebulizers.

Nebulizers intended for medical use generally consist of a jet or ultrasonic compressor, tubing, a plastic medication cup, and some kind of inhalation attachment (mouthpiece, mask, nasal, etc).  They are intended for use by only one person at a time directly inhaled.  They do not diffuse the medication throughout the room, but instead concentrate the medication to deliver it directly into the patient’s nose or mouth.  With aromatherapy nebulizers, they are intended to diffuse the essential oils throughout the room rather than for direct inhalation.  They nebulize much slower and are not intended for single person direct inhalation.  Some aromatherapy nebulizers can cover an area of up to 1000 square feet.  Aromatherapy nebulizers take much longer dispense the essential oil than a medical grade nebulizer takes to dispense the medication.  Medical grade nebulizers come with either disposible nebulizer sets, which are not dishwasher or autoclave safe, and reusable nebulizer sets which are usually boil, autoclave, and dishwasher safe.  If you are going to use essential oils in a medical grade nebulizer, be sure you are using a reusable nebulizer set because some essential oils are naturally hot and can melt disposible nebulizer plastic. 

There are restrictions with both aromatherapy nebulizers and medical nebulizers.  Medical nebulizers are by prescription only.  They are only intended for direct inhalation not dispersion.  Aromatherapy nebulizers are not by prescription, but not intended for direction inhalation or approved for medication delivery.  They often have a glass nebulizer which will need to be carefully cleaned after each use.  That glass piece is often fragile and expensive to replace.  If you have questions about either nebulizer, check with your healthcare provider to be sure you are using the nebulizer properly.