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How to Use A Nebulizer
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is a nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a device that turns liquid medicine into a mist. As you breathe, the mist of medicine moves into your lungs. The medicine may be an antibiotic or other medicine for your lungs. The nebulizer is usually connected to a machine that pushes air through the nebulizer. The air helps turn the medicine into a mist. When a nebulizer is used it is called a breathing treatment or nebulizer treatment.
Why do I need breathing treatments?
Breathing treatments are used to treat the swelling of your airway, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. These can be caused by any of the following:
- Chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lung infections, such as pneumonia
- Severe allergic reactions
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a nebulizer?
- Nebulizers can be used by anyone of any age. You can mix more than 1 medicine, and they can all be given at the same time. High doses of medicines can be used. No special breathing techniques are needed to use a nebulizer.
- The machine is noisy and needs an electrical power source for it to function. Compared to other inhalation devices, it is larger, less portable, and has a longer treatment time.
How do I use a nebulizer?
- Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing the nebulizer for use. This may prevent germs from getting into your lungs. .
- Prepare the machine. Place the machine on a hard surface. Check to see if the air filter is clean. If it is dirty, rinse it using cold water and let it air dry. Plug in the machine.
- Prepare the medicine. If your medicine is premixed, open it and place it in the nebulizer medicine container. If you have to mix medicines, place the correct amounts into the container using a dropper or syringe.
- Add saline if needed. You may need to add saline (saltwater) to your medicine container. Buy sterile normal saline at a pharmacy. Do not use homemade saline solution in a nebulizer.
- Connect the container. Connect the medicine container to the machine using the tubing. Connect the mask or mouthpiece to the top of the container.
- Place the mouthpiece between your teeth. Close your lips around it. You may instead, place the mask on your face.
- Turn on the machine. Keep the medicine container in an upright position. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply through your mouth until the mist is gone. The treatment is over when all the medicine is gone or there is no more mist coming out. The whole treatment may take up to 20 minutes. The machine may also make a sputtering noise when the treatment is done.
How do I take care of my nebulizer?
- Clean after each use. Wash the container and mouthpiece or mask with dish soap and hot water. Shake off the excess water and let the parts air dry. You can also attach the nebulizer pieces to the machine. Turn the machine on to dry the nebulizer quickly. Make sure all pieces are completely dry before storing them away.
- Disinfect every other day after treatment. Soak the nebulizer parts, except the mask, in 1 part diluted white vinegar and 3 parts hot water. Let them soak for 1 hour. Rinse the parts, shake off excess water, and let them air dry. You can also attach the nebulizer pieces to the machine. Turn the machine on to dry the nebulizer quickly. Make sure all pieces are completely dry before storing them away.
When should I call 911?
- Your breathing gets worse after a treatment.
- Your chest suddenly feels tight after your treatment.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You develop a rash or hives after a treatment.
- Your hands, arms, or legs shake after the treatment.
- You have a fast heartbeat and feel dizzy.
- You have a fever and sore mouth or throat.
- Your symptoms do not improve, even with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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