The aerosol (hand-held) nebulizer turns breathing medications from a liquid into a fine mist that is inhaled into the lungs. The nebulizer connects to the aerosol compressor via a 5-foot tubing. The hand-held aerosol nebulizer is made up of several components: the mouthpiece, T-piece, reservoir tubing, medication cup, and connector tubing. If the patient cannot use or hold the mouthpiece (an infant, for example), an aerosol mask would be used in its place.
It is important to follow your doctor’s orders. Do not take more treatments than ordered on any given day. If after taking an aerosol treatment and your breathing has not improved, contact your doctor’s office. Do not take another treatment.
Taking an aerosol treatment:
- Wash your hands.
- Read the label on the medication carefully to assure you are taking the right medication.
- Open the medication cup and place your medication directly into the cup. Most medication today is unit dose and already premixed, eliminating the need for additional solutions.
- Reattach the medication cup and place the T-piece to the top of the medication cup.
- Attach the mouthpiece to one end of the T-piece. If you have a 6-inch piece of corrugated tubing, attach that to the other end of the T-piece.
- NOTE: if using a mask instead of the mouthpiece, attach the mask directly on the top of the medication cup—eliminating the need for the T-piece.
- Attach the tubing to the end of the medication cup and the other end to the aerosol compressor.
- Turn the compressor on.
- Place the mouthpiece into your mouth going past your teeth to about the middle of your tongue. If using a mask, it can be held in place with your hands or using the strap provide making sure there are no major gaps in the seal against your face.
- Take slow, deep breaths through your mouth and hold your breath for one to three seconds to allow the medication to attach to your airways. This is also the case if using a mask. Slow, deep breaths are much more effective than fast, short breaths.
- If you feel yourself getting tired, turn the aerosol compressor off and take a break. (Turning the machine off stops medication waste).
- When the noise from the medication cup changes or begins to sputter, that means you can stop the treatment.
After each treatment:
- Take the nebulizer apart. Wash all parts with a mild liquid soap and warm water. Rinse all parts well with warm water. (Do not boil any of these parts.)
- Set cleaned parts on a clean paper towel so that they can air dry. When dry, reassemble the aerosol nebulizer and place in a clean plastic or paper bag until the next treatment is needed.
Every other day:
- Follow the process above and then place all cleaned parts in a clean container that has 1 part white distilled vinegar and 3 parts tap water. Let these parts soak for 20-30 minutes and then rinse in warm water, discarding the vinegar solution.
- Weekly wipe down the aerosol compressor with a clean, damp cloth.
- Store your medications in a cool, dry place.
- Discard any medications that have changed in appearance.