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Children's Health

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Helping Your Child Use a Nebulizer

Help your child get the most out of their asthma treating nebulizer. These simple guidelines show you how.

Who Should Use a Nebulizer?

Several groups of people can benefit from home nebulizer therapy. For instance, the therapy is particularly effective in delivering asthma medications to infants and small children. It’s also effective for anyone who is unable to use asthma inhalers with spacers.

A nebulizer can be a very effective, even potentially lifesaving, tool for managing allergic asthma. They are, though, only effective when used properly. Used incorrectly, nebulizers may actually contribute to serious medical problems.

Some people make the mistake of using a nebulizer only to deliver quick-acting bronchodilators. These are medicines used on a “rescue” basis to get control over an asthma attack. But doctors generally prescribe the regular use of a nebulizer to deliver inhaled steroids. The purpose is to prevent asthma attacks.

You might be tempted to forgo nebulizer treatment when your child is not exhibiting any childhood allergy symptoms or signs of asthma. But to keep asthma from getting worse, it’s important to follow the doctor’s directions about how and when to use the machine.

Here are guidelines for helping your child use a nebulizer.

Using a Nebulizer: Getting Started

Before you start, be sure that you collect all of the materials you will need. These include:

  • air compressor
  • compressor tubing
  • mask or mouthpiece
  • medication
  • nebulizer cup

It’s a good idea to practice assembling the machine ahead of time. That way, you will be familiar with the different components and how they go together. Your infant or young child will feel much more comfortable about asthma treatment if you seem at ease and confident about what you are doing. This is especially true for babies, who will not understand what you are trying to do and may be scared by the unfamiliar machine.

After you’ve gathered your materials, put the air compressor unit on a steady surface and plug it in. Next, you and your child should both wash your hands thoroughly before starting to use the nebulizer.

Here are the steps you’ll need to help your child begin using the nebulizer:

  • Measure the asthma medications the way your doctor or pharmacists instructed.
  • Place them in the nebulizer cup.
  • Attach the cup to the mask mouthpiece.
  • Now, use the tubing to connect the air compressor and the nebulizer cup.
  • Before you put the mask on your child, switch the compressor on. Check to make sure it is functioning properly. If you see a mist coming through the tube to the mouthpiece, the machine is working.
  • Have your child sit in a chair or on your lap, wherever he or she will be most comfortable.
  • Gently place the mask over his or her face, or if you are using a mouthpiece, insert it between your child’s teeth. Make sure your child’s lips are closed around the mouthpiece. This will create a seal.

Now your child is getting the allergic asthma treatment he or she needs.

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