Learning About Nebulizers for Children

What is a nebulizer?

A nebulizer is a tool that delivers liquid medicine as a fine mist. Your child breathes in the medicine through a mouthpiece or face mask. This sends the medicine straight to your child's airways and lungs. Your child breathes in the medicine for a few minutes.

What is it used for?

A nebulizer may be used to treat breathing problems, such as asthma. It may be easier for small children to use.

Nebulizers and asthma

Most medicines for asthma are inhaled. Delivery systems for these medicines include metered-dose and dry powder inhalers and nebulizers. Older children usually use metered-dose inhalers (MDIs). Nebulizers are used most often with infants.

A nebulizer is sometimes used with daily controller medicines for asthma. It also may be helpful when it's hard for your child to breathe during an asthma attack.

How do you use a nebulizer?

  1. Put the medicine into the medicine container. Be sure to measure the right amount.
  2. Make sure that the container is connected to the mouthpiece or face mask.
  3. Turn on the air compressor.
  4. Have your child take deep, slow breaths through the mouthpiece or mask. Your child should hold each breath for about 2 seconds.
  5. Continue until the medicine is gone from the container. When the medicine is gone, there will be no more mist coming out. This may take about 10 minutes.
  6. Shake the container to make sure your child gets all the medicine.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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