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How to Use a Nebulizer

Photo of a girl wearing a nebulizer maskRead the equipment instructions completely before you use a nebulizer. Even if you received personalized home instruction prior to use, follow these instructions before you use a nebulizer as they will vary from one manufacturer to another:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before you use a nebulizer and make sure the equipment is clean.
  2. If using a multi-dose bottle of medicine, use a dropper to administer the correct dosage into the cup with saline solution. If the medicine is in single-use vials, twist the top off the plastic vial and squeeze the contents into the nebulizer cup.
  3. Connect the mouthpiece, or mask, to the T-shaped elbow. Fasten the unit to the cup. For children older than 2, using a mouthpiece is recommended because it will deliver more medication than a mask.
  4. Connect the nebulizer tubing to the port on the compressor.
  5. To use a nebulizer correctly, hold it in an upright position. This will prevent spillage.
  6. When you use a nebulizer, sit in a comfortable, upright position. Place the mouthpiece between your teeth and close your lips around it. When using a mask, be sure it fits well so the mist doesn't get into your eyes.
  7. Gently exhale. As the mist starts, inhale slowly through your mouth. Take over three to five seconds for each breath while keeping your finger over the valve hole.
  8. Hold your breath for up to 10 seconds before exhaling. This allows the medication time to deposit in the airway.
  9. At the end of a deep breath, uncover the finger valve hole to stop the mist.
  10. When you use a nebulizer, occasionally tap the side of the nebulizer to help the medication drop to where it can be misted.
  11. Continue until the medication is gone from the cup. The nebulizer will most likely begin sputtering when it is empty.

Follow these tips before and after each use:

  • Order replacement supplies now so they will be on-hand when needed.
  • After you use the nebulizer, clean it according to instructions. Neglecting to do so will promote bacteria to grow.
  • Store the nebulizer and supplies in a clean, dry, and dust-free location.
  • Dispose of nebulizer tubing that becomes cloudy or retains moisture.
  • Replace disposable parts, tubing, and filters according to manufacturer's instructions. Using a nebulizer cup longer than indicated will result in slower, less efficient delivery of medication.
  • When you use a nebulizer, always use a mask or mouthpiece when giving or taking a treatment. Simply aiming the mist at a baby's face does not ensure that any medication reaches small, swollen airways.
  • If treating infants and toddlers, purchase supplies that can be used when the child is in a reclined position or sleeping.
  • Only use medications made specifically for nebulizers and those approved by the Food and Drug Administration as manufactured by a pharmaceutical company or licensed agent only. These agents are sterile, contain no contaminants or unwanted particles, and are mixed in exact proportions.