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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.

Using a Nebulizer With a Mask

If your child is not old enough to use a mouthpiece correctly, you will need to use a mask with the nebulizer. The mask ensures the asthma medication is delivered properly. You may not like the idea of putting a mask over your baby’s nose and mouth, but remind yourself how important it is to use a nebulizer correctly. It’s the only way to make sure the asthma medicine your child needs goes directly to the lungs.

Some babies are upset or scared by the nebulizer. Because of this, some parents are tempted to point the mist at the baby’s face while the baby sleeps. What they want to do is deliver the asthma treatment in way that would be undetected. But this method, called “blow-by treatment,” is highly ineffective. It will not deliver the asthma medication to your baby’s lungs.

For children of all ages, a close-fitting mask will make the difference between a nebulizer treatment that works and one that does not. If the mask is just a mere half-inch away from the nose and mouth, 50% of the medicine will not make its way to the lungs. If the mask is an inch away from the face, 80% of the medicine won’t reach the lungs.

What to Do During a Nebulizer Treatment

A nebulizer treatment can take between 15 and 20 minutes. It will be easier for your child to sit still for the treatment if your child has something else to focus on. For instance, you might try reading to your child while the asthma treatment is going on.

While the nebulizer is delivering the medication, encourage your child to breathe slowly and deeply. Urge your child to try to hold each breath in for a couple of seconds before exhaling. If this makes your child nervous, explain that the asthma medication will work better if it sits in the lungs before it’s blown out. To help, you can hold your breath with your child or count out loud to provide support.

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