Sometimes children’s allergy symptoms don’t stop with a stuffy nose and
watery eyes. If your child has allergic asthma, the most common form of asthma,
exposure to allergens like pollen and mold can cause breathing passages to
become swollen and inflamed. Childhood allergies that trigger asthma can lead
to wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.
When that happens, your child’s doctor may prescribe the use of a breathing
machine called a nebulizer. The following Q & A will help you teach your
child how to get the most benefit from using a nebulizer.
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A nebulizer is a machine that’s used to deliver asthma medication to the
lungs. It does this by converting liquid medication into a mist. The mist can
then be inhaled.
What Medications are Delivered With a Nebulizer?
There are several types of allergic asthma medicines that can be delivered
by a nebulizer. They include:
Inhaled corticosteroids. These drugs have been used for more than
half a century. They reduce breathing passage inflammation, bronchial tube
swelling, and the overproduction of mucus.
Bronchodilators. These drugs are often used on an as-needed basis.
They’re used to address asthma symptoms.
Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications. These drugs lessen
inflammation in the airways. Although they have few side effects, they do not
control the symptoms of allergic asthma as well as inhaled
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
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
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:
mask or mouthpiece
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.