Inhalers

The administration of medication in the late 19th and early in the 20th century was as primitive as the medication to be administered. Earlier this summer a hypodermic syringe of metal and glass was featured as a collectible.

An atomizer or inhaler with its original box

Above is an atomizer or inhaler used to administer medication by absorption through the mucous membrane, in this case, through the lungs. Medication was placed in boiling water and added to the glass contained. The lid with the atomizer and bulb were screwed on and either the nurse or the patient would squeeze the bulb to create a fine mist which was inhaled. Finding such an artifact in its original box increases its value to a collector. Unfortunately, the rubber parts of this one have deteriorated. The date is unknown.

Below is a drawing of an even more primitive inhaler, commonly known as a Maw's inhaler. The nurse would add the medication to boiling water in the small container. The inhaler was wrapped with flannel, both to keep in the heat and to protect the hands. The mouthpiece (on the left) was inserted into the mouth and the patient instructed to inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose.

Maws inhaler

Drawing of Maw's inhaler is from: Maxwell, A.C., Pope, A. E. (1923). Practical nursing. 4th Ed. New York: G.P. Putnam.

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