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Jan.27.2021
 How to Use a Nebulizer, Adult

How to Use a Nebulizer, Adult

A nebulizer is a device that turns liquid medicine into a mist or vapor that you can breathe in (inhale). This medicine helps to open the air passages in your lungs. You may need to use a nebulizer if you have an acute breathing illness, such as pneumonia. A nebulizer may also be used to treat chronic conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease (COPD).
There are different kinds of nebulizers. With some nebulizers, you breathe in medicine through a mouthpiece. With others, you get medicine through a mask that fits over your nose and mouth.

What are the risks?

If you use a nebulizer that does not fit right or is not cleaned properly, it can cause some problems, including:
  • Infection.
  • Eye irritation.
  • Delivery of too much medicine or not enough medicine.
  • Mouth irritation.

Supplies needed:

  • Air compressor (nebulizer machine).
  • Nebulizer medicine cup (reservoir)and tubing.
  • Mouthpiece or face mask.
  • Soap and water.
  • Sterile or distilled water.
  • Clean towel.

How to use a nebulizer


Preparing a nebulizer

Take these steps before using your nebulizer:
  1. Read the manufacturer's instructions for your nebulizer, as machines vary.
  2. Check your medicine. Make sure it has not expired and is not damaged in any way.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  4. Put all of the parts of your nebulizer on a sturdy, flat surface.
  5. Connect the tubing to the nebulizer machine and to the reservoir.
  6. Measure the liquid medicine according to instructions from your health care provider. Pour the liquid into the reservoir.
  7. Attach the mouthpiece or mask.
  8. Test the nebulizer by turning it on to make sure that a spray comes out. Then, turn it off.

Using a nebulizer

Be sure to stop the machine at any time if you start coughing or if the medicine foams or bubbles.
  1. Sit in an upright, relaxed position.
  2. If your nebulizer has a mask, put it over your nose and mouth. It should fit somewhat snugly, with no gaps around the nose or cheeks where medicine could escape. If you use a mouthpiece, put it in your mouth. Press your lips firmly around the mouthpiece.
  3. Turn on the nebulizer.
  4. Some nebulizers have a finger valve. If yours does, cover up the air hole so the air gets to the nebulizer.
  5. Once the medicine begins to mist out, take slow, deep breaths. If there is a finger valve, release it at the end of your breath.
  6. Continue taking slow, deep breaths until the medicine in the nebulizer is gone and no mist appears.

Cleaning a nebulizer

The nebulizer and all of its parts must be kept very clean. If the nebulizer and its parts are not cleaned properly, bacteria can grow inside of them. If you inhale the bacteria, you can get sick. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning your nebulizer. For most nebulizers, you should follow these guidelines:
  • Clean the mouthpiece or mask and the reservoir by:
    • Rinsing them after each use. Use sterile or distilled water.
    • Washing them 1–2 times a week using soap and warm water.
  • Do not wash the tubing.
  • After you rinse or wash them, place the parts on a clean towel and let them air-dry completely. After they dry, reconnect the pieces and turn the nebulizer on without any medicine in it. Doing this will blow air through the equipment to help dry it out.
  • Store the nebulizer in a clean and dust-free place.
  • Check the filter at least one time every week. Replace the filter if it looks dirty.

Follow these instructions at home

  • Use your nebulizer only as told by your health care provider. Do not use the nebulizer more than directed by your health care provider.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Where to find more information

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have trouble using the nebulizer.
  • Your nebulizer foams or stops working.
  • Your nebulizer does not create a mist after you add medicine and turn it on.

Get help right away if:

  • You continue to have trouble breathing.
  • Your breathing gets worse during a nebulizer treatment.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • A nebulizer is a device that turns liquid medicine into a mist (vapor) that you can breathe in (inhale).
  • Measure the liquid medicine according to instructions from your health care provider. Pour the liquid into the part of the nebulizer that holds the medicine (reservoir).
  • Once the medicine begins to mist out, take slow, deep breaths.
  • Rinse or wash the mouthpiece or mask and the reservoir after each use, and allow them to air-dry completely.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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