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Treatments & Procedures

Home Nebulizer

A small, hand-held nebulizer, which is powered by an air compressor, has been prescribed by your doctor to deliver medicines and moisture to your air passages. The medicines and moisture help control your respiratory symptoms (such as wheezing) and help loosen secretions in the lungs.

The instructions in this handout will help you correctly perform the procedure and operate the equipment safely. Your health care provider will tell you how often you need to perform this treatment.

What supplies do I need?

You will need the following supplies:

  • Hand-held nebulizer
  • Air compressor
  • Mouthpiece or face mask
  • Clean measuring devices (enough for each solution used in your treatment)
  • Eyedropper or syringe to measure the medicines (if you do not have single dose vials)

Where should the nebulizer be used?

Use the nebulizer in a well-lighted area. Select a comfortable place in your home where you can take your treatment without being interrupted. Sit in a comfortable, straight-backed chair when taking your treatment.

Place the compressor on a sturdy surface that will support its weight, such as a table or desk. Plug the compressor's cord into a properly grounded (three-pronged) outlet.

Treatment procedure

1. Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them with a clean towel.

2. Measure your medicine.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing the treatment.
  • Always use clean measuring devices (eyedroppers or syringes).
  • Use a separate measuring device for each solution used in your treatment.
  • Measure your medicines exactly as you have been instructed.
  • Wash your hands after measuring each solution used in your treatment.

3. Remove the top part of the nebulizer cup.

4. Place the medicine in the bottom of the nebulizer cup.

5. Attach the top portion of the nebulizer cup, and connect the mouthpiece or face mask to the cup.

6. Connect the tubing to the nebulizer and compressor.

7. Turn on the compressor with the on/off switch.

8. Once you turn on the compressor, you should see a light mist

9. If you are using a mouthpiece, place it in your mouth and seal your lips tightly around it.

10. If you are using a face mask, position it comfortably and securely on your face.

11. Inhale slowly and deeply. Hold your breath for a count of five and exhale slowly.

12. Continue to inhale slowly and deeply for about five to 10 minutes or until the medicine is gone.

13. If you become dizzy, shaky, or feel an increased heart rate, stop your treatment and rest for about five minutes. Then continue the treatment, but breathe more slowly. If these symptoms continue, call your health care provider.

14. When the medicine is gone, turn the compressor off and unplug it.

15. Take several deep breaths and cough. Continue coughing and try to clear any secretions you might have in your lungs. Cough the secretions into a tissue and dispose of it.

16. Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them with a clean towel.

Cleaning and disinfecting procedure

  • Always clean the equipment in a smoke-free and dust-free location, away from open windows. Clean the equipment after house-cleaning (especially after vacuuming and dusting).
  • Make sure the compressor is turned off and unplugged.
After each treatment:
  1. Take apart the nebulizer cup and mouthpiece or mask. Rinse these parts with warm tap water. NOTE: There is no need to clean the tubing that connects the nebulizer to the air compressor.
  2. Shake off the excess water and place the parts on a clean, dry towel.
  3. Allow the parts to air dry thoroughly.
After the last treatment of the day:
  1. Take apart the nebulizer cup and mouthpiece or mask. Wash these parts with warm soapy water using a mild detergent.
  2. Rinse all parts with warm water.
  3. Shake off the excess water and place the parts on a clean, dry towel.
  4. Allow the parts to air dry thoroughly.
Every third day, after washing the equipment:
  1. Mix a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water in a clean bowl.
  2. Soak the nebulizer cup and mouthpiece or mask in the solution for 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse the parts well with warm tap water.
  4. Shake off the excess water and place the parts on a clean, dry towel.
  5. Allow the parts to air dry thoroughly.

Equipment storage


Compressor
  1. Cover your air compressor with a clean towel.
  2. Keep the compressor on a sturdy surface that will support its weight. Do not store the compressor on the floor.
  3. Check your compressor's filter once a month. Replace it if it's dirty. Unscrew the filter cap, remove the old filter and replace it with a new one.
  4. Always keep an extra filter in case you need it. Your health care provider can supply the filters for you.
Nebulizer
  • Reassemble the clean nebulizer parts and store them in a small bag between treatments.
  • Always keep an extra nebulizer in case you need it.

Medicine storage

  • Store all of your medicines in a cool, dry place.
  • Check your medicines often. Make sure they have not changed color or formed crystals.

If you notice any changes in the appearance of your medicines, throw them away. Ask your health care provider to refill your prescription.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/26/2010…#4254