How to Use a Nebulizer

Many people living with COPD may use a nebulizer to help get the medication deep into the lungs where it's needed most.

There are different types of medicines and delivery devices to treat COPD. A nebulizer is a device that turns the liquid medicine into a mist which is then inhaled through a mouthpiece or a mask. Sometimes asthma medication is given through a nebulizer as well, so this information can benefit people living with asthma too. With COPD, or any chronic lung disease, taking your medicine correctly is a major part in successfully managing the disease.

Learning how to use your nebulizer and clean it properly is important so that your medications are most effective. These videos offer a step-by-step guide to cleaning and using medications correctly.

How to Use a Nebulizer

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 Lung.org/nebulizer.

How to Clean a Nebulizer

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.

Cleaning your nebulizer is important to prevent the spread of germs and keep you from getting sick. It will also keep your device working properly. It is recommended to wash the parts of your nebulizer after each use, including the mouthpiece or mask, top piece, and medicine cup.

To start, take the nebulizer apart by removing the tubing and setting it aside.

The tubing should never be placed under water. Remove the mouthpiece or mask, and medicine cup from the top piece, and place them all into the top shelf of the dishwasher.

Or wash the medicine cup, top piece, and mouthpiece or mask, in warm soapy water, and rinse. Shake off the excess water and let the pieces air-dry in a cool, dry place until the next use.

Your nebulizer will also need a thorough cleaning once a week. Soak the mouthpiece or mask, top piece, and medicine cup in a white vinegar and water solution for 30 minutes, or as recommended by your device manufacturer.

After 30 minutes, rinse and air-dry in a cool, dry place.

Clean the surface of the compressor and the outside of the tubing with a soapy cloth or disinfectant wipe.

The compressor and the tubing should never be submerged in water.

And remember, most compressors have an air filter that will need to be replaced every six months, or as recommended by your manufacturer.

For more nebulizer demonstration videos and information, visit the American Lung Association's website at Lung.org/nebulizer.

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

Resource

Safely Using Your Nebulizer at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • ABCs of Using a Nebulizer

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  • ABCs of Using a Nebulizer (Spanish)

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Page last updated: March 27, 2023

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