Many people with chronic lung diseases such as COPD or asthma use a nebulizer to take their medication in the form of a mist that is inhaled into the lungs.

Nebulizers are often recommended for patients who have a hard time using inhalers because of health issues, or patients who are unable to inhale deeply enough for other devices.

A nebulizer has five basic parts:

  • A medicine cup,
  • a top piece or cap
  • to attach to a mask or mouthpiece to the medicine cup (With your healthcare provider, you can decide which type works best for you.)
  • thin plastic tubing connects the mouthpiece to the machine
  • and an air machine called a compressor, which can be plugged into an electrical socket for indoor use, a car adapter for when you are on the go, or battery-operated for portable use while not at home.

With clean hands, take the medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider, and pour it into the medicine cup.

Attach the top piece to the medicine cup, and then the mouthpiece or mask.

Connect the tubing from the compressor to the medicine cup.

Put the mask over your face, or put the mouthpiece in your mouth between your teeth, and close your lips tightly around it.

Turn on your compressor.

Hold the nebulizer in an upright position to prevent spilling and to ensure the medication is correctly distributed.

Take normal regular breaths in through your mouth so that the medicine can go deep into your lungs.

Continue until all of the medicine is gone from the cup.

For more demonstration videos and information on cleaning and caring for your nebulizer, visit the American Lung Association's website at

Learn how to properly use a nebulizer to take your COPD or asthma medication with the American Lung Association.

The nebulizer educational videos are supported by Mylan Specialty, L.P. and Theravance Biopharma US.

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Page last updated: March 27, 2023

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