What is a Nebulizer & Who needs one?

by Justin LaClair May 28, 2024 3 min read

A Nebulizer is generally a small device that a person with asthma or respiratory condition will use to deliver medication direct to the lungs. The Nebulizer is run by a small piston powered pump that pressurizes room air to about 15 or 16PSI. This pressurized air is run through a short length of tubing in to the bottom of a cup that holds your liquid medication. The top of the cup installs in to a mask or mouthpiece that you hold near your mouth and nose. The pressurized air will help vaporize the medicine in to a mist, which will rise in to the top of the cup. When you inhale deeply, you inhale the medication mist.


Who needs a Nebulizer?

Doctors typically prescribe nebulizers to people with one of the following lung disorders:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis

Sometimes, a doctor will prescribe a nebulizer for a child who has a respiratory infection, such as bronchiolitis.

What Medicine is used with a Nebulizer?

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:

  • Albuterol
  • Ipratropium
  • Levalbuterol
  • Corticosteroids help prevent airways from becoming inflamed and help prevent symptoms.

These include:

  • Budesonide
  • Flunisolide
  • Fluticasone
  • Triamcinolone

Nebulizers also may be used with:

  • Certain inhaled antibiotics to treat lung infections
  • Sterile saline solution or medicines to help loosen up mucus in the lungs

How do you use a Nebulizer?

These simple steps will help you quickly and accurately take your medicine with your new nebulizer.

  1. Wash your hands! This eliminates the possibility of germs getting in to your medicine.
  2. Plug in your Nebulizer
  3. Hook your tubing from the outlet to the bottom of your cup
  4. Fill the cup with your medicine. Make sure to hold the cup upright to avoid spills!
  5. Insert the face mask or mouth piece to the top of the cup
  6. Breath slow and deep as you watch the medicine flow through the mask or mouthpiece to verify you are breathing it in. This portion should take about 5 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your dose.
  7. Once done, take the pieces apart and clean them in mild soapy water and let them air dry for next time!

Care for your Nebulizer Mask or Mouth Piece

Regardless if you have a disposable Mask that is good for a couple weeks, or maybe you have a non disposable style Mouth Piece that is good forever, using these simple steps will make sure that it stays clean and disinfected for each and every use. The last thing you want is to introduce germs in to the lungs that you are trying to treat!

Disinfect your nebulizer once per week or more frequently as directed. After washing your equipment, disinfect the nebulizer with one of the following methods.

Disposable nebulizers should use one of these cold disinfecting methods:

  • Soak in 70% isopropyl alcohol for 5 minutes.
  • Soak in 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes.
  • Soak in a one-part white vinegar to 3-part water solution for 30 minutes.
  • After any of these cold disinfecting techniques, rinse well and air dry.

Non-disposable nebulizers may be disinfected as described above. They may also be disinfected by any of the following heat disinfecting methods:

  • Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Microwave in a bowl of water for 5 minutes.
  • Put in the dishwasher at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
  • Use an electric steam sterilizer (baby bottle sterilizer).

Care for your Nebulizer Machine

Care for your Nebulizer machine is simple and straight forward. Make sure you use it on a hard clean surface like a counter top or table. You do not want to operate it on a shaggy carpet or any surface that will prohibit airflow from aiding the cooling of the machine. To clean the unit, simply use a damp cloth with some mild soapy water. No harsh chemicals needed! If your particular nebulizer has filters, please make sure the replace them as per the manufacturers specifications. This will make sure that the machine will reliably run for many years.

    Justin LaClair
    Justin LaClair

    Justin has been working with OxygenPlus since their storefront start in 1993. In 2002 he earned the title of CEO and has been operating OxygenPlus ever since. Most of the time if you call, Justin will answer the phone. He tries to be extremely hands on with most every transaction that takes place. Raised with a very high quality standard, any work must meet his satisfaction before it is approved. He is a classic car enthusiast, loves traveling either for work or pleasure, and is a renewable energy advocate. As of 2015, he saw to it that his personal home, and OxygenPlus Medical run 100% off of solar power.

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