How to Use a Nebulizer
Read 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:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before you use a nebulizer and make sure the equipment is clean.
- 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.
- 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.
- Connect the nebulizer tubing to the port on the compressor.
- To use a nebulizer correctly, hold it in an upright position. This will prevent spillage.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hold your breath for up to 10 seconds before exhaling. This allows the medication time to deposit in the airway.
- At the end of a deep breath, uncover the finger valve hole to stop the mist.
- When you use a nebulizer, occasionally tap the side of the nebulizer to help the medication drop to where it can be misted.
- 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.