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Nebulizer - Types, Uses, Parts and Instructions to Use

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Nebulizer - Types, Uses, Parts and Instructions to Use

4 min read


A nebulizer is a device used to treat medical conditions like asthma. Read the article to learn more about the nebulizer types, their uses, and their drugs.

Written by

Dr. Saberitha

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Published At July 15, 2022
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024


The medication inside the nebulizer is present in a liquid state. During the usage, the liquid is converted into mist form. A nebulizer relaxes the breathing muscles making the airflow to the lungs much easier.

How Convenient Is a Nebulizer?

There are two kinds of nebulizers - home nebulizers and portable nebulizers. The home nebulizers are bigger than portable nebulizers. It requires electricity to function. Portable nebulizers can function with batteries. These nebulizers are compact and easy to carry on the go. A doctor's prescription is mandatory for using a nebulizer.

What Are the Various Types of Nebulizers?

Nebulizers are classified into three modes, depending on the size of the particle.

  1. Jet Type: This type of nebulizer converts gas into small air particles (aerosol). The gas is stored inside the nebulizer in a compressed state. While using the nebulizer, the medicated particles reach the lungs.

  2. Ultrasonic Type: The ultrasonic type of nebulizer has larger particles than the jet type. When the nebulizer is activated, the air particles (aerosol) are produced through high-frequency vibrations.

  3. Mesh Type: In the mesh type, the medication is converted into air particles (aerosol) from the liquid state. When the nebulizer is initiated, the liquid passes through a fine mesh to get converted into air particles. The fine mesh filters the liquid into tiny particles. This nebulizer is a bit costlier compared with the other types.

The Nebulizers Are Available as Mouthpiece and Facemask:

  • Mouthpiece: Children above five years and adults are advised to use the nebulizer in the form of a mouthpiece.

  • Facemask: Children under five years of age tend to breathe through the nose more often than the mouth breathing. So they are advised to use the nebulizer in the form of a facemask.

When Is the Nebulizer Used?

A nebulizer is used by children or adults when they face breathing difficulty. Depending upon the severity of breathing difficulty, doctors advise the medications. Different types of medications are available to treat the symptoms of asthma, bronchiectasis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. These medications give relief after use.

What Medicines Are Used in a Nebulizer?

Nebulizers with corticosteroids are used to suppress the inflammatory reaction. Bronchodilator drugs dilate the breathing muscle and give relief to make the airflow effortless.


Saline - A sterile saline is used in the nebulizer to make the airflow much more manageable. This sterile solution has a very thin consistency and brings the mucus out of the lungs.

Which Is Better - A Nebulizer or an Inhaler?

  • The principle behind both nebulizers and inhalers is that they distribute medication to the lungs.

  • Nebulizers are easy to use, but difficult to carry around. Inhalers are compact and easier to carry. Young children are advised to use nebulizers, as the nebulizers do not require any effort to use.

  • Normal breathing is enough for using a nebulizer. The medication usually takes around six to ten minutes to reach the lungs. The aerosol inside the nebulizer can be seen as a mist. It also gives a satisfactory feeling after use. So most people prefer using a nebulizer.

  • The portable nebulizer is bigger than the inhaler. Inhalers are cost-effective. Inhalers have limited side effects than nebulizers. Inhalers are available in a compact size and are easier to carry inside a bag to the workplace or during travel.

  • It is quite difficult to use an inhaler in the initial stage. But it becomes easier to use after a few times of practice. The inhaler delivers the right amount of medication.

What Are the Parts of a Nebulizer?

  • The air compressor.

  • Tube for the compressor.

  • A nebulizer cup.

  • Two forms - nebulizer mouthpiece or mask form.

  • Medication (single unit or bottles). The amount of the drug can be measured using a measuring device.

What Are the Instructions to Follow While Using a Nebulizer?

  1. A three-point electric board is required to plug in the nebulizer. Before using the nebulizer, the compressor must be kept over a flat surface. It should be sturdy without any hindrance to use. Do not keep the compressor on the floor. Try to place it over a table. The nebulizer is then plugged in.

  2. The hands should be hygienic before using the nebulizer. Wash the hands with antiseptic hand wash before use. Be cautious and use dry hands before plugging into the electricity.

  3. The medication is placed inside the nebulizer cup. It is available in pre-measured doses. The medication can also be measured using a measuring device. Always use a clean measuring device. The cup is assembled with a mask or a mouthpiece.

  4. The tube is connected to the compressor and the cup. When the compressor is turned on, the mist comes out.

  5. The person should sit erect in a chair while using the nebulizer. Children should be placed on their parent's laps. Wear the mask in a comfortable position. The mouthpiece should be kept between the upper and lower teeth. Lips are sealed after placing the mouthpiece for better results.

  6. The breathing should be slow and deep. Hold the breath for three seconds before exhaling. Continue doing the same until the nebulizer makes a crackling sound. Stop using the nebulizer if the patient feels drowsy due to the medication. Try to breathe slowly. The nebulizer should be used with the medication per a doctor's advice.

How to Take Care of The Nebulizer?

  1. Disinfect the nebulizer before and after use. Use warm water with mild soap to wash the cup, mask, or mouthpiece.

  2. Dry the equipment before storing it. Do not clean the compressor using water.

  3. Soak the equipment in a disinfectant once every three days. Let the equipment remain in the disinfecting solution for 20 minutes. Take the equipment and dry it using a towel. Store it in an airtight bag.

  4. The medications should not be kept under direct sunlight. Store it in a cold place.


Always have an extra cup, mask, or mouthpiece for emergency purposes. Keep an eye on the filter and clean it regularly. The filter in the compressor is replaced after being used several times. Changes in the color or formation of crystals in the medication should be discarded. Cover the nebulizer with a dry cloth whenever it is not in use. The nebulizers and inhalers have their own pros and cons. Use either an inhaler or nebulizer, whichever is comfortable to use. Choose the inhaler or nebulizer after a doctor’s advice because only the doctor will know how to manage medical conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Purchasing Portable Nebulizer is recommended and beneficial in emergency situations.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Steps to Use a Nebulizer?

The following are the basic steps to set up and use the nebulizer:
- Wash your hands prior to using the nebulizer.
- Connect the hose of the machine to an air compressor.
- Fill the medicine cup with the prescribed drug. To avoid spilling the medicine, tightly close the medicine cup and always position the mouthpiece straight up and down.
- Connect the hose and mouthpiece to the medicine cup.
- Place the mouthpiece in the patient’s mouth and ask the patient to keep the lips firmly around the mouthpiece so that all the medicine goes into the lungs.
- Ask the patient to breathe through his mouth until all the medicine is inhaled. This process takes around 10 to 15 minutes. If needed, a nose clip can be used to allow breathing only through the patient’s mouth. For small children and older adults, wearing a mask is usually better.
- Switch off the machine when the process is completed.
- Wash the medicine cup and mouthpiece thoroughly with water and air dry them until the next use of the machine.


What Is the Function of a Nebulizer?

A nebulizer is a small electrical machine that converts liquid drugs into a mist. The patient uses the machine and breathes in through an attached mouthpiece. The medicine goes into the lungs of the patient as he takes slow and deep breaths for 10 to 15 minutes. It is comparatively easy to breathe the drug into the lungs by this method.


How Can a Nebulizer Be Used Without Medication?

A nebulizer cannot be used without medication, and it can cause very critical breathing issues if done so. To get an appropriate medication, consult your doctor to obtain a legal prescription.


How Does a Nebulizer Function?

A nebulizer delivers liquid drugs through pressurized air. A nebulizer is easier to use, especially for young children and older adults who are either not friendly with holding an inhaler or are incapable of doing so.


Does a Nebulizer Have a Healing Effect on the Lungs?

The nebulizer treatment may aid in reducing inflammation in the lungs and, or dilate the airways, particularly in cases of respiratory issues like asthma. However, patients with other respiratory illnesses such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), who develop lung-related complications from a cold or flu are also benefitted from this.


Which Medicines Are Used With a Nebulizer?

A nebulizer requires liquid medication for use, such as:
- Albuterol.
- Hypertonic saline.
- Formoterol.
- Budesonide.
- Ipratropium.


Can a Nebulizer Be Used With Only Water?

A saline water solution or purified water can be used with a nebulizer, instead of a drug. Dilution of bronchodilator nebulizer solution with water does not significantly reduce the overall bronchodilator response.


Does a Nebulizer Help in Shortness of Breath?

A nebulizer may also be used in cases of shortness of breath. For certain patients, and with some types of medications, nebulizers are the most efficient method of dispensing inhalation drugs.


When Should a Nebulizer Be Used for a Child?

A nebulizer may be recommended for an infant if he has swollen airways, feels shortness of breath, or any other breathing problem that could occur due to chronic respiratory illnesses, like asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung infections like pneumonia, severe allergic reactions, etc.


For How Much Duration Should a Nebulizer Be Used for a Child?

Occasionally, babies and little children find it difficult to get asthma treatment with a nebulizer. The nebulizer treatment takes around 15 to 20 minutes to let the children breathe in the medicine.


Since What Age Can a Baby Start Using a Nebulizer?

A nebulizer is an equipment that is used to deliver medicine deep inside the lungs. It is a treatment option for respiratory illnesses that can be utilized by both children under 6 years of age with a mask and children above the age of 6 years with a mouthpiece.


Can a Nebulizer Be Used Daily?

For adults and children older than 12 years of age, 2.5 mg of the medicine in the nebulizer can be used three to four times a day or as advised. For children between 2 to 12 years of age, 0.63 to 1.25 mg of the drug with the nebulizer can be utilized 3 or 4 times per day or as needed. For children younger than 2 years of age, the use and dose of the drug must be determined by the child's doctor.
Dr. Rajesh Gulati
Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Family Physician


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