Guidance on nebulization during the current COVID-19 pandemic

Respir Med. 2021 Jan;176:106236. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2020.106236. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

Abstract

Awareness of the risk of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 makes patients hesitant about using inhaled medications that are considered as a potential source of viral transmission and immunosuppression. However, patients with asthma or COPD should continue all prescribed inhaled medications. Apparently, inhalers, including pMDIs, DPIs, or SMIs, have a low risk of contamination although characteristics of drug formulation can precipitate cough, whereas some researchers do not rule out the probability that nebulizer treatments may increase the risk of infection transmission via droplet nuclei and aerosols. Considering that aerosol therapy generates fugitive emissions that are not inhaled by the patient and are released from the device during expiration, several international professional bodies have provided recommendations for drug delivery via inhalers and in particular, nebulizers. Unfortunately, these recommendations are often in conflict with each other and do not clarify whether it is appropriate to use nebulizers during this COVID-19 pandemic. Considering what is available in literature, there are no known infection-related hazards to an uninfected patient and also a patient with COVID-19 that preclude the use of a nebulizer at home, but it fundamental that all patients, regardless of whether or not suffering from COVID-19, always follow some practical advices.

Keywords: Asthma; COPD; COVID-19; Inhalers; Nebulizers; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control*
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*