Nebulizer - how to use; Asthma - how to use a nebulizer; COPD - how to use a nebulizer; Wheezing - nebulizer; Reactive airway disease - nebulizer; COPD - nebulizer; Chronic bronchitis - nebulizer; Emphysema - nebulizer; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - nebulizer; Cystic fibrosis - nebulizer
A nebulizer is a small machine that turns liquid medicine into a mist that can be easily inhaled. You sit with the machine and breathe in the medicine through a connected mouthpiece or facemask. This allows the medicine to enter the lungs directly.
Nebulizers may be used for people with lung disease, including:
Types of Nebulizers
Most nebulizers work by using air compressors to create the mist containing the medicine. A different kind, called an ultrasonic nebulizer, uses sound vibrations. Nebulizers come in three main types:
A nebulizer can be a smaller portable device or a plug-in tabletop machine you use at home. You will need a prescription from your health care provider to get a nebulizer. Check with your health plan to see if it will cover the cost of the device. Most plans will cover it.
Setting Up and Using a Nebulizer
Use your nebulizer according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The basic steps to set up and use your nebulizer are as follows:
Taking Care of Your Nebulizer
You will need to clean your nebulizer to prevent bacteria from growing in it, since bacteria can cause a lung infection. It takes some time to clean your nebulizer and keep it working properly. Be sure to unplug the machine before cleaning it.
After each use:
Once per day, you may add a mild dish soap to the cleaning routine above.
Once or twice each week:
You may clean the outside of your machine with a warm, damp cloth as necessary. Never wash the hose or tubing.
You will also need to change the filter. The instructions that come with your nebulizer will tell you when you should change the filter.
Nebulizers vs. Inhalers
Like nebulizers, inhalers are also used to send medicine into your lungs. But there are differences.
If you have asthma, you may not need to use a nebulizer. You may use an inhaler instead, which is usually just as effective if used properly. But a nebulizer can deliver medicine with less effort and greater predictability than an inhaler. You and your provider can decide if a nebulizer is the best way to get the medicine you need.
The choice of device you use may be based on whether you find a nebulizer easier to use and what type of medicine you take.
Below are examples of medicines that may be used with a nebulizer:
Bronchodilators work by relaxing the muscles of your airways, and this lets you breathe better during an attack or flare-up. Examples include:
Corticosteroids help prevent airways from becoming inflamed and help prevent symptoms. These include:
Nebulizers also may be used with:
Note: This is not a comprehensive list of medicines.
Contact your provider or medical device supplier if you are having trouble using your nebulizer. You should also call your provider if you have any of these problems while using your nebulizer:
These may be signs that you are getting too much medicine.
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Review Date: 12/9/2022
Reviewed By: Frank D. Brodkey, MD, FCCM, Associate Professor, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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