Asthma Fact Sheets How to Use and Care for Your Nebulizer

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A nebulizer is a device driven by a compressed air machine. It allows your child to take medicine in the form of a mist (wet aerosol). It consists of a cup, a mouthpiece attached to a T-shaped part or a mask, and thin, plastic tubing to connect to the compressed air machine. Mostly three types of patients use it:

  • Children under age 5.
  • Patients who have problems using metered-dose inhalers.
  • Patients with severe asthma.

Nebulizers help ensure you receive the right amount of medicine. Routinely cleaning the nebulizer is important because an unclean nebulizer may cause an infection.

A good cleaning routine keeps the nebulizer from clogging up and helps it last longer. (See instructions with nebulizer.)

Directions for using the compressed air machine may vary (check the machine’s directions), but generally the tubing has to be put into the outlet of the machine before it is turned on.

How to Use a Nebulizer

1a. If your medicine is premixed (unit dose) Open up the ampule and gently squeeze the contents into the medicine cup of the nebulizer. Go to step 2.

1b. If your medicine is not premixed, measure the correct amount of medication, then add saline to make a minimum of 3cc in the cup.

2. Fasten the mouthpiece to the T-shaped part and then fasten this unit to the cup OR fasten the mask to the cup. For a child over the age of 5, use a mouthpiece unit because it will deliver more medicine than a mask.

3. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth. Seal your lips tightly around it OR place the mask on your face.

4. Turn on the air compressor machine.

5. Take slow, deep breaths in through the mouth.

6. Hold each breath 1 to 2 seconds before breathing out.

7. Continue until the medicine is gone from the cup (approximately 10 minutes).

8. Store the medicine as directed after each use.

Cleaning the Nebulizer

Don’t forget: Cleaning and getting rid of germs prevent infection. Cleaning keeps the nebulizer from clogging up and helps it last longer. DO NOT put anything other than medication, sterile/ distilled water, or vinegar solution in the medicine cup of the Nebulizer.

Needed After Each Use

  1. Remove the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part from the cup. Remove the tubing and set it aside. The tubing should not be washed or rinsed. The out side should be wiped down. Rinse the mask or mouth piece and T-shaped part in warm running water for 30 seconds. Use distilled or sterile water for rinsing, if possible.
  2. Shake off excess water. Air dry on a clean clothe or paper towel.
  3. Put the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part, cup, and tubing back together and connect the device to the compressed air machine. Run the machine for 10 to 20 seconds to dry the inside of the nebulizer.
  4. Disconnect the tubing from the compressed air machine. Store the nebulizer in a ziplock plastic bag.
  5. Place a cover over the compressed air machine.

Cleaning Needed Once Every Day

  1. Remove the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part from the cup. Remove the tubing and set it aside. The tubing should not be washed or rinsed.
  2. Wash the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part with a mild dishwashing soap and warm water.
  3. Rinse under a strong stream of water for 30 seconds. Use distilled (or sterile) water if possible.
  4. Shake off excess water. Air dry on a clean clothe or paper towel.
  5. Put the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part, cup, and tubing back together and connect the device to the compressed air machine. Run the machine for 10 to 20 seconds to dry the inside of the nebulizer.
  6. Disconnect the tubing from the compressed air machine. Store the nebulizer in a ziplock plastic bag.
  7. Place a cover over the compressed air machine.

Cleaning Needed Once or Twice a Week

  1. Remove the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part from the cup. Remove the tubing and set it aside. The tubing should not be washed or rinsed. Wash the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part with a mild dishwashing soap and warm water.
  2. Rinse under a strong stream of water for 30 seconds.
  3. Soak T-shaped part, medicine cup, and mask or mouthpiece for 30 minutes in a solution that is one part distilled white vinegar and two parts distilled water. Throw out the vinegar water solution after use; do not reuse it.
  4. Rinse the nebulizer parts under warm running water for 1 minute. Use distilled or sterile water, if possible.
  5. Shake off excess water. Place all parts on a clean dry cloth or paper towel to air dry.
  6. Put the mask or the mouthpiece and T-shaped part, cup, and tubing back together and connect the device to the compressed air machine. Run the machine for 10 to 20 seconds to dry the inside of the nebulizer thoroughly.
  7. Disconnect the tubing from the compressed air machine. Store the nebulizer in a ziplock plastic bag.
  8. Clean the surface of the compressed air machine with a damp, soapy cloth or sponge. You could also use an alcohol or disinfectant wipe. NEVER PUT THE COMPRESSED AIR MACHINE IN WATER.
  9. Place a cover over the compressed air machine.
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