Different from an inhaler, a nebulizer actually uses compressed air to make liquid into a gas that looks like steam, and people breathe that over about 3 to 7 minutes. An inhaler actually works quickly with one puff getting to the lungs. Nebulizers actually turn the liquid into very, very small clouds of medicine that go down to the deepest parts of the lungs and work in much the same way. There are various reasons to use an inhaler or a nebulizer. Many people use both. They look different, but they work the same.