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Nebulizer for Asthma Treatment

Topic Overview

A nebulizer is a device used to deliver liquid medicine in the form of a fine mist (aerosol). It is sometimes used for asthma because:

  • The medicine can be given over a longer period of time.
  • It may be easier to use for small children or for people who have serious difficulty breathing or have trouble using an inhaler.

A nebulizer uses a face mask or mouthpiece to deliver medicine. You breathe in the medicine through the mouthpiece or face mask. The mouthpiece or face mask needs to be cleaned after each use.

In general, a nebulizer may not always be the best choice for delivering daily asthma medicines to children because it:

  • Is hard to keep the mask on the child's face for the length of time needed for each treatment.
  • Isn't mobile. It is an electrical device that must stay in place while the child uses it.
  • Can be more expensive to use than a metered-dose inhaler (MDI).
  • Can deliver more medicine than is needed, compared with an inhaler and a spacer. This makes it easier to give a child too much medicine.
  • Needs maintenance on a regular basis.

If your child seems afraid to use a nebulizer, you may be able to help him or her by:

  • Putting the mask on your own face first to show your child there's nothing to be afraid of.
  • Have your child put the mask on a favorite stuffed animal to show that it isn't dangerous.
  • Distract your child during treatment, such as by watching a favorite TV show together or reading a book to your child.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised March 14, 2013

Last Revised: March 14, 2013

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