Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Asthma Nebulizer

If you are an asthma patient or someone who you know is an asthmatic, it is good to know how to use a nebulizer. Nebulizers can save lives in dire consequences of sudden asthma attacks. This article will explain how to use a nebulizer .

Do you know, what are nebulizers, and what are they for?

Nebulizers are devices that transform liquid medicine into mist. The mist is inspired to treat respiratory disorders and ailments, like cystic fibrosis, COPD, but usually asthma. nebulizers are also sometimes used for aromatherapy treatments.

There are two kinds of nebulizers, one is the ultrasonic nebulizer and the other is the compressor nebulizer. Both are as effective as one another. Compressor nebulizers use air to transform the liquid medication into mist, while the ultrasonic nebulizer use vibration to turn the medication into mist. That pretty much is the difference between them, aside from the fact that ultrasonic nebulizers are usually more portable.

Explanation below are the normal procedures on how to use a nebulizer that will surely be in assistance for first time asthma patients or for people who have loved ones with asthma.

1. Before using a nebulizer, make sure you wash your hands and keep them clean. Make sure the nebulizer is clean.

2. Open the cup and place the medication inside the cup. Close the nebulizer cup.

3. Connect the tubing into the nebulizer and attach the mask (usually for infants and younger children) or mouthpiece (usually for older children and adults) to the nebulizer cup.

4. Turn the nebulizer on and make sure mist is coming out of the mouthpiece or mask.

5a. If you are using a mouthpiece, hold the mouthpiece with your mouth and gently bite onto it. Gently breathe in and out using your mouth. Keep holding the nebulizer cup in an upright position.

5b. If you are using a mask, place the mask over the mouth and nose. Keep holding the cup in an upright position.

6. If the nebulizer starts to sputter, that means that most of the medication is gone. Tapping the nebulizer cup can help the remaining medicine to drop to where it can be turned into mist.

7. Clean and dry the nebulizer and the nebulizer parts after use. Make sure the nebulizer is completely dry before storing it in a cool, dry place. This way, you can keep the apparatus from hosting germs that can cause infections and make the patient’s condition worse.

Extra Information On Nebulizer

How to Use a Nebulizer

A typical tabletop nebulizer consists of the following parts:

• Air compressor

• Clear plastic tubing

• Nebulizer chamber (chamber that holds the liquid medication)

• Mouthpiece (or a mask)

First, you’ll need to put the air compressor portion of the nebulizer on a table or other stable, flat surface. Never put your nebulizer on the floor to use, as dust and dirt can easily clog the air compressor. Then pour the proper dose of nebulizer asthma medication into the nebulizer chamber, and screw on the lid of the nebulizer chamber. 

Make sure the lid is securely screwed on, as this will ensure a proper seal. Without a proper seal, the nebulizer chamber will not be able to properly nebulize your asthma medication. Next you’ll need to connect one end of the plastic tubing to the air compressor, and connect the other end to the bottom of the nebulizer chamber. 

A mouthpiece is connected to one side, near the top of the nebulizer chamber. (In case of using a mask, attach the mask to the nebulizer chamber.) Then, insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and place your lips firmly around the mouthpiece. 

If you’re using a mask, place the mask firmly over your nose and mouth; make sure there is a firm seal between your skin and the mask to avoid nebulizer medicine leaking out. Next, breathe slowly in and out, until you’ve used up all the medicine. 

A typical treatment lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.


When taking a nebulizer treatment, try holding each breath for about 2-3 seconds and then exhale. This will help your lungs to better absorb your nebulizer asthma medication.

How to Clean a Nebulizer

Hot, Soapy Water. It’s important to clean your nebulizer after each use by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also follow these suggestions: take apart the nebulizer chamber, and then wash each part in warm soapy water. 

Next, rinse each part and then shake off any excess water. Allow the nebulizer parts to air-dry. Make sure all nebulizer parts are dry before storing.

Disinfection. Every other day it’s necessary to disinfect your nebulizer. Again, follow your nebulizer manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, you can follow these suggestions for disinfecting your nebulizer: wash your hands. 

Next, soak all nebulizer chamber parts (except tubing and mask) in a solution of 1 part distilled vinegar and 3 parts hot water. You should soak nebulizer chamber parts for at least 20 minutes. After disinfection is completed, rinse each part in warm water and discard the disinfection solution. 

Shake off excess water, and allow nebulizer chamber parts to air-dry; make sure all parts are completely dry before storing.

Cleaning the Nebulizer Compressor. Clean your nebulizer compressor according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe the outside of your nebulizer compressor. It may also be necessary to occasionally clean and/or replace your nebulizer filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Storing the Nebulizer. You can store the nebulizer chamber parts in a zipped-top storage bag. The nebulizer compressor can be stored in its original box, or in a clean, dry cabinet or closet. It’s recommended you avoid storing your nebulizer on the floor, as dirt and dust can clog your air compressor.

Nebulizers can be an invaluable tool for asthma patients—young and old.

Nebulizer asthma medicine is sometimes easier for younger children and adults to use, rather than a Midi inhaler and spacer. Asthma medicine, delivered by a nebulizer, gets directly to the airways and helps to speed up the action of the medicine in the lungs. Nebulizers can mean a dramatic improvement in quality of life for some asthmatics. Check with your doctor to see if a nebulizer may be a good option for you or your children.

Important: Nebulisers are used only during an asthma attack and not before. It’s good to have, a stock of the prescribed medicine and should be kept in a cool dry place where children can’t reach.