Nebulizer Treatments

Some medicines need to be given through a nebulizer treatment. Nebulizer treatments are also called breathing treatments, aerosol treatments or med nebs. A nebulizer changes liquid medicine into a fine mist that you breathe into the airways of your lungs. Sometimes it is used for people who have a hard time using inhalers.

How often you have the nebulizer treatments will depend on:

  • The type of medicine you are to take 
  • How short of breath you are or the amount of wheezing you have

Taking a Treatment 

  • The treatment can be done with a mask or mouthpiece based on which works best for you.  
  1. If using a mouthpiece, place the mouthpiece in your mouth past your teeth. Make a seal around the mouthpiece with your lips.
  2. When using a mask, place it over your mouth and nose. 
  • Check your pulse before your treatment and write it down. 
  • You will see a fine mist when the treatment is started. Sit down, relax and take normal, regular breaths in through your mouth. 
  • When all the medicine is used up, turn off the pump. The treatment will last about 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Take a couple deep breaths and cough at the end of your treatment to bring up any loose mucus. Spit the mucus into a tissue and throw the tissue into the trash. Wash your hands.

Stop the treatment if: 

  • You feel light headed, dizzy or shaky. 
  • Your pulse rate gets much faster.

Wait a few minutes and if the symptoms go away, restart the treatment. If the symptoms do not go away, or if they come back when you restart the treatment, call your doctor. You may need to change your medicine or dose.

How to Prepare Your Medicine 

Follow these steps to get your medicine ready to do the nebulizer treatment:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Rinse and dry your hands. 
  2. Gather your medicine and the nebulizer cup. 
  3. Check your medicine label to be sure it is the right medicine. Also check that you have the correct dose or strength of medicine your doctor ordered. 

Look at the expiration date on the label and be sure that your medicine is not out of date. If the date is past, you need to get new medicine.

  1. Open the nebulizer cup. 
  2. Measure your medicine and put it into the nebulizer cup. Use only the amount of medicine your doctor ordered. 
  3. Close the cup. 
  4. Keep the cup upright and attach it to the tubing and the mouthpiece or mask. 
  5. Check that the tubing is attached to the pump and turn the nebulizer pump on. 
  6. Relax and breathe in the medicine. Continue until there is no more mist.

Clean Your Equipment to Prevent Infections 

Clean the outside of the nebulizer pump and tubing each week with a disinfectant wipe or damp cloth, or as directed by the manufacturer. 

Never put the pump or tubing in water. 

Clean the nebulizer cup and the mouthpiece or mask after each use and as directed to prevent infections.

After each treatment 

  1. Disconnect the cup from the tubing and from the mouthpiece or mask. Set the tubing aside until the next treatment. 
  2. Open the nebulizer cup and rinse the cup parts and the mouthpiece or mask under warm running water. 
  3. Shake off the excess water and place parts on clean paper towels to air dry. 
  4. Cover the parts with another clean paper towel until your next treatment. 
  5. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Rinse and dry your hands.

At the end of each day 

  1. Wash the cup parts, mouthpiece or mask with liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. 2. Rinse parts well with warm running water. 
  2. Place parts on paper towels to air dry. Cover with a clean paper towel until your next treatment.

One time each week or as directed 

  1. Soak the pre-washed parts in white vinegar solution for 30 minutes. All parts should be completely covered by the solution while soaking.  
  • To make the solution, mix 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water. For example, mix 1  

              cup of white vinegar with 3 cups of water in a container.  

  1. Rinse the parts well with warm running water. 3. Place the parts on clean paper towels to air dry. Cover with a second clean paper towel until your next treatment.


  • If you have questions about your nebulizer pump or you need new equipment parts, ask your equipment provider. 
  • If you have any questions about your medicine or the treatment, ask your therapist or doctor.

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