Your Child's Asthma: Nebulizer Treatments
A nebulizer is a device that sprays a fine, liquid mist of medicine. It is often used in younger children who can't use inhalers. The device has an air compressor, a cup for medicine, and tubing connected to a mouthpiece or mask. Your child breathes in the medicine through the mouthpiece or mask. Each treatment takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
There are several different types of nebulizers used for asthma medicine. They are:
The instructions can be slightly different for each. So make sure you know how to use your child's nebulizer.
Giving a treatment
The following steps are recommended when giving a treatment to your child. But always talk with your child's healthcare provider for specific instructions. Instructions will also vary by specific nebulizer. Make sure you know how to use yours.
Wash your hands. Gather supplies needed, including:
Medicine to be nebulized and additional nebulizing solution such as sterile saline, if needed.
Nebulizer set. This is the nebulizer cup, mouthpiece or mask, and tubing to connect to nebulizer machine.
Find a quiet activity for your child to do while he or she sits up for the treatment. Some examples are reading a book, drawing, or playing a quiet game.
Place the nebulizer on a flat surface. This might be on a table or the floor.
Plug the unit into a wall outlet.
Connect the tubing to the nebulizer machine.
Put the medicine into the nebulizer cup and screw the cap on securely. Some medicine may be premixed. Other medicine may need to be measured.
Connect the other end of the air tubing to the nebulizer cup.
Connect the mouthpiece or face mask to the nebulizer cup.
Turn the machine on.
Check to make sure a fine mist of medicine is coming through the face mask or mouthpiece. Most nebulizer cups need to be held upright to work correctly.
Place the mouthpiece in your child's mouth with their lips sealed around the mouthpiece.
Encourage your child to take slow deep breaths in and out of their mouth. The mist should disappear with each breath.
Place the mask over your child's mouth and nose. The adjustable elastic band may be used to hold the mask in place.
Encourage your child to take deep breaths in and out for the entire treatment.
Encourage your child to continue slow, deep breaths until all the medicine in the nebulizer cup is gone. You may need to tap the sides of the nebulizer cup to make sure all medicine is given.
Turn the nebulizer off.
If you check your child's peak flow, make sure you measure it before and after the treatment.
After each treatment
Disconnect the nebulizer cup from the tubing.
Open the cup and wash all pieces according to the instructions that came with the nebulizer. Also clean the mouthpiece or mask.
Air dry on a clean towel. Wash your hands.
Store the dried nebulizer cup and tubing in a plastic bag.
Once a week, rinse the nebulizer cup in a vinegar and water solution after washing, as directed by your child's provider. Follow specific instructions for periodically disinfecting the nebulizer, mouthpiece, and mask.
Notes for parents
Stay with your child during the nebulizer treatment.
If your child vomits or has a severe coughing spell during the treatment, stop the treatment. Let your child rest for a few minutes, then resume the treatment.
Check the filter on the nebulizer machine once a week. When it becomes discolored, replace with a new filter.
Always keep spare nebulizer supplies at home. Before you run out, call your medical supply company.
Online Medical Reviewer: Alan J Blaivas DODaphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRCTennille Dozier RN BSN RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
- Asthma in Children
- Asthma in Children Index
- Asthma Triggers
- Chronic Respiratory Disorders
- Home Page - Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
- Online Resources - Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
- Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
- Topic Index - Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
- Your Child's Asthma
- Your Child's Asthma and Ozone
- Your Child's Asthma: Avoiding Triggers
- Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups
- Your Child's Asthma: How Severe Is It?
- Your Child's Asthma: Peak Flow Meters, Oximeters, and Spirometers
- A Kids' Asthma Journal
- Albuterol inhalation aerosol
- Albuterol inhalation powder
- Albuterol inhalation solution
- Albuterol oral syrup
- Albuterol tablets or extended-release tablets
- Aminophylline oral tablet
- Asthma and Pregnancy
- Asthma on Campus
- Beclomethasone nasal spray
- Beclomethasone respiratory inhalation aerosol
- Betamethasone foam
- Betamethasone injection
- Betamethasone oral solution
- Betamethasone skin cream, gel, lotion, or ointment
- Betamethasone topical spray
- Budesonide gastro-resistant capsules and extended-release tablets
- Budesonide inhalation powder
- Budesonide inhalation solution
- Budesonide nasal spray
- Budesonide rectal foam
- Carbetapentane; Chlorpheniramine; Phenylephrine oral tablet
- Carbetapentane; Phenylephrine Oral Suspension
- Cortisone tablets
- Cromolyn Sodium eye solution
- Cromolyn Sodium inhalation aerosol
- Cromolyn Sodium inhalation solution
- Cromolyn Sodium nasal spray
- Cromolyn Sodium oral solution
- Dexamethasone eye drops
- Dexamethasone eye ointment
- Dexamethasone injection
- Dexamethasone intravitreal implant
- Dexamethasone oral solution
- Dexamethasone tablets
- Dyphylline tablets
- Ephedrine injection
- Epinephrine inhalation aerosol
- Epinephrine inhalation solution
- Epinephrine injection
- Epinephrine injection (Auto-injector)
- Epinephrine nasal spray
- Flunisolide inhalation aerosol
- Flunisolide nasal spray
- Fluticasone cream or ointment
- Fluticasone Furoate Nasal spray
- Fluticasone inhalation aerosol
- Fluticasone inhalation powder
- Fluticasone nasal spray
- Fluticasone; Salmeterol inhalation aerosol
- Fluticasone; Salmeterol inhalation powder
- Fluticasone topical lotion
- Formoterol inhalation powder
- Formoterol nebulizer solution
- Helping Your Teen Manage Asthma
- Hydrocortisone injection
- Hydrocortisone rectal aerosol foam
- Hydrocortisone rectal cream
- Hydrocortisone rectal enema
- Hydrocortisone skin cream, ointment, lotion, or solution
- Hydrocortisone suppositories
- Hydrocortisone tablets
- Hydrocortisone topical spray
- Levalbuterol inhalation aerosol
- Levalbuterol inhalation solution
- Metaproterenol inhalation aerosol
- Metaproterenol inhalation solution
- Metaproterenol oral syrup
- Metaproterenol tablets
- Methylprednisolone Solution for Injection
- Methylprednisolone Suspension for Injection
- Methylprednisolone tablets
- Montelukast chewable tablets
- Montelukast oral granules
- Montelukast oral tablets
- Nedocromil eye solution
- Nedocromil inhalation aerosol
- Omalizumab injection
- Pirbuterol Acetate Pressurized inhalation, suspension
- Prednisolone eye solution or suspension
- Prednisolone oral disintegrating tablet
- Prednisolone oral solution or syrup
- Prednisolone oral suspension
- Prednisolone tablets
- Prednisone delayed-release tablets
- Prednisone oral solution
- Prednisone tablets
- Salmeterol inhalation aerosol
- Salmeterol inhalation powder
- Terbutaline injection
- Terbutaline tablets
- Theophylline extended-release tablets or capsules
- Theophylline oral solution or syrup
- Triamcinolone dental paste
- Triamcinolone injection
- Triamcinolone nasal spray
- Triamcinolone oral inhaler
- Triamcinolone skin cream, ointment, lotion, or aerosol
- Triamcinolone tablets
- Your Child's Asthma Action Plan at School
- Your Child's Asthma: First Office Visit
- Your Child's Asthma: School Strategies
- Zafirlukast tablets
- Zileuton tablets