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Hand Held Nebulizer Treatments

(757) 668-7000

A nebulizer is a small air compressor that turns medicine into a mist to be inhaled into the lungs. Breathing the medicine straight into the lungs works directly on the tissues in the lungs. Nebulizer treatments are either given by mouthpiece or mask and take about 15 minutes.

Nebulized medicines help your child by relaxing the airway muscles or by decreasing the swelling in the lungs so your child can breathe easier. “Treatments” take about 15 minutes to give. Medicines used in the nebulizer may include albuterol, Intal® (cromolyn sodium), Xopenex® (levalbuterol), Pulmicort® (budesonide),Atrovent® (ipratopium), antibiotics, hypertonic saline, or Pulmozyme® (dornase alfa).


  1. Gather supplies needed:
    • medicine
    • nebulizer machine
    • nebulizer set (nebulizer cup, mouthpiece or mask, tubing to connect to nebulizer machine)
    • a quiet activity for your child during the treatment (i.e. book to read, video to watch, or crayons for coloring)
  2. Place the nebulizer on a flat surface like a table or the floor.
  3. Plug the unit into a wall outlet.
  4. Connect the air tubing to the nebulizer machine.
  5. Put the medication into the nebulizer cup and screw the cap on securely.
  6. Connect the other end of the air tubing to the nebulizer cup.
  7. Connect the mouthpiece or facemask to the nebulizer cup.
  8. Turn the machine on.
  9. Check to make sure a fine mist of medicine is coming through the facemask or mouthpiece.

    Place the mouthpiece in the child’s mouth with the lips sealed around the mouthpiece.
    Encourage the child to take slow deep breaths in and out of their mouth. The mist should “disappear” with each breath.

  10. Face Mask:
    Place the mask over the child’s mouth and nose. The adjustable elastic band may be used to hold the mask in place.
    Encourage the child to take deep breaths in and out.

    • Continue the treatment until the medicine in the nebulizer cup is gone. (Tapping the sides of the cup towards the end of the treatment will help use all medicine.)
    • Turn the nebulizer off.


    1. Disconnect the nebulizer cup from the tubing.
    2. Open the cup and rinse it along with the mouthpiece/mask in running water. (Do Not rinse tubing)
    3. Air-dry all parts on a clean towel.
    4. Store the dried nebulizer cup and tubing in a zip-lock bag.
    5. Once a week rinse the nebulizer cup in 1 part vinegar mixed with 1 part water to disinfect. Rinse again and let air-dry.


    1. If your child receives chest physiotherapy or suctioning after the treatment, do not let the child eat for one hour before the treatment to prevent vomiting.
    2. If Peak Flow measurements are part of your child's treatment plan, measure these before and after the treatment.
    3. Stay with your child throughout their nebulizer treatment.
    4. If your child begins to cough severely or vomits, stop the treatment, let the child rest for a few minutes, and restart the treatment.
    5. Check the filter on the nebulizer machine once a week and change it when it becomes discolored.
    6. Keep a spare nebulizer kit at home. Contact your medical equipment company to deliver more when you have two kits left.


    • The treatment is needed more frequently than every 4 hours, or more frequently than instructed by your physician
    • Your child vomits repeatedly with the treatment.
    • Your child has severe coughing spells throughout the treatment.
    • Your child does not seem better after the treatment.

    CALL 911 IF:

    • The Peak flow stays in the red zone.
    • Your child seems worse after a treatment.
    • Your child is confused or does not “act right”.
    • Your child’s fingertips or lips are blue or gray.
    • Your child cannot complete a sentence without gasping for air or has a weak cry.

    Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

    Reviewed: 05/2018

    (757) 668-7000