Nebulizers: What You Should Know

A woman using a nebulizer.Over 34 million people throughout the United States live with a chronic lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Any type of lung disease can have a significant detrimental impact on your quality of life without effective treatment to manage it. One of these treatments is the usage of nebulizers, which turn liquid medicine into a mist that can be easily inhaled.

While they function in a similar way, nebulizers are not the same thing as inhalers. An inhaler delivers medication more quickly, is often smaller and more portable, often costs less, and usually causes fewer side effects. However, they are not as easy to use properly as nebulizers, which allow you to breathe normally to get the dose of medicine you need.

You may need a nebulizer if you plan to take certain types of medication, such as bronchodilators (which relax your airway muscles) or corticosteroids (which prevent airway inflammation). Nebulizers can also be used with some antibiotics (if you have a bacterial lung infection) or medications that loosen mucus in your lungs.

Before using your nebulizer, it’s important to make sure you’re setting it up correctly. You should:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions for setting up and using your nebulizer, which should be included
  • Wash your hands
  • Fill the medicine cup and close it tightly
  • Make sure the hose is connected to the air compressor, mouthpiece, and medicine cup
  • Plug in and turn on the nebulizer

While using the nebulizer, you should:

  • Keep your lips firmly around the mouthpiece
  • Breathe through your mouth until the medicine cup is empty (this can take up to 20 minutes)

It’s also important to make sure you’re keeping your nebulizer sanitary for future use. Each time you finish using it, you should:

  • Turn off and unplug the machine
  • Wash the mouthpiece and medicine cup under warm, running water
  • Air dry the nebulizer and run air through it for at least 20 seconds to ensure all parts of it are dry
  • Remove all detachable parts (such as the mouthpiece and medicine cup) and store the nebulizer in a covered place until the next time you use it
  • Change the machine’s filter as needed (see the instructions that came with your nebulizer)

If you experience symptoms of asthma or another type of lung disease, you can receive high-quality treatment from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7126.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.