What is a nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a tool that delivers liquid medicine as a fine mist. You breathe in the medicine through a mouthpiece or face mask. This sends the medicine directly to your airways and lungs.
Depending on your needs, you can get a small, portable nebulizer or one that sits on a table or counter. A portable unit can run on rechargeable batteries or plug into a car or wall electrical outlet. A tabletop unit plugs into a wall outlet.
All nebulizers have parts that need to be washed and air-dried each time you use them.
What is it used for?
A nebulizer may be used to treat breathing problems. These include asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
A nebulizer can make inhaling medicines easier. It can be very helpful if it is hard for you to breathe or to use an inhaler.
How do you use a nebulizer?
Follow the directions for use and cleaning that come with your nebulizer. For a tabletop unit:
- Make sure that the air compressor is steady and will not tip, and then plug it in.
- Put the correct amount of medicine in the nebulizer cup.
- If you're using a mask to breathe through, connect the cup to the mouthpiece of the mask.
- Attach one end of the tubing to the nebulizer cup and the other end to the compressor.
- Turn on the compressor. Make sure that a mist is coming out of the mouthpiece or mask.
- Take deep, slow breaths through the mouthpiece or mask. Hold each breath for about 2 seconds.
- Keep breathing until the medicine is gone from the cup. There will be no more mist coming out. This may take about 10 minutes.
After each use, clean the mouthpiece or face mask with warm, soapy water. Let it air-dry. After every few uses, follow the product directions to disinfect the parts.
Current as of: June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine