What is Aerosol Therapy?

Aerosol therapy is a medical treatment that is used to treat a variety of breathing conditions. It can be used in the treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or other illnesses that impact airway function. Aerosol therapy delivers small amounts of medicine into the lungs. These medications are often used to relax the muscles in the airway to make breathing easier (decrease wheezing), or they are used to fight infections.

Patients may use aerosol therapy for a few days or a lifetime, depending on their illness or condition. Someone with an acute respiratory illness like bronchitis or pneumonia may use aerosol therapy as a short-term treatment. Patients with a chronic respiratory illness such as asthma or COPD may use aerosol therapy as part of a long-term way to manage their condition.


A common form of aerosol therapy uses a Compressor/Nebulizer. A Compressor/Nebulizer is a machine that changes liquid medication into a fine, breathable mist so it can easily be inhaled directly into the lungs. If your Physician has prescribed a nebulizer as part of your treatment, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your aerosol therapy routine.


What you will need

  • Compressor:  This creates a pressurized stream of air that turns the medication into mist
  • Handheld Nebulizer Kit: These usually include a mouthpiece (for inhaling), tubing and medication bowl/cup
  • Medication and Normal Saline: As prescribed by your Healthcare provider
  • Eyedropper/Syringe: For measuring and dispensing the medication

Getting Ready For Treatment

  • Position the Compressor on a flat, clean and stable surface
  • Plug the Compressor into an AC outlet. (Travel compressors allow you to use their internal battery power)
  • Find a comfortable, straight backed chair. Sitting up straight during treatments is highly recommended

 

How To Use the Nebulizer

  • Always wash your hands before you get started
  • Remove the top of the hand held nebulizer

    Removing top of the nebulizer

     
  • Measure the medication as prescribed, dilute with normal saline then pour into the nebulizer cup
  • Reattach the top of the nebulizer and attach mouthpiece and tubing. A mask can also be used instead of the mouthpiece, however, the therapeutic results are usually better when the mouthpiece is used

Diagram of a nebulizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Turn on the Compressor using the on/off switch. You should hear the nebulizer sizzle and see a light mist
  • Inhale slowly and as deeply as is comfortable. Try to hold each inhalation for the count of 5 seconds, this will insure that the medication reaches deep into the respiratory tract. Repeat this until the mist has stopped. When the nebulizer cup is almost emplty, gently tapping the side of the cup will help to get the last drops of medication out
  • When all of the medication has been used, turn off the Compressor

 

After You've Finished Your Treatment

  • Always clean the equipment in a smoke-free and dust-free location, away from open windows. Clean the equipment after house-cleaning (especially after vacuuming and dusting)
  • Make sure the compressor is turned off and unplugged
  • Take apart the nebulizer cup and mouthpiece or mask. Rinse these parts with warm tap water. NOTE: There is no need to clean the tubing that connects the nebulizer to the air compressor
  • Shake off the excess water and place the parts on a clean, dry towel
  • Allow the parts to air dry thoroughly

 

 

Need more information on how the nebulizer is used? Watch this brief video that shows how easy using a nebulizer can be.

 

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