An asthma nebulizer (also called a breathing machine) converts asthma medication from a liquid to a mist so the medication can be more easily inhaled into the lungs. It is useful for infants, small children and in patients who are unable to use asthma inhalers with spacers.
The cost of the home asthma nebulizer vary from $200-250 and usually it is covered by health insurance policy under durable medical equipment, but the patient must ask a doctor for a prescription.
A home nebulizer consists of nebulizer cup, mask or mouthpiece, air compressor, compressor tubing and medication (either unit dose vials or bottles with measuring devices). The patient must have an extra nebulizer cup and mask or mouthpiece in the case of a need.
The air compressor must be placed on a sturdy surface (not on the floor either for treatments or for storage) and plugged into a properly grounded (three-prong) electrical outlet. Before every use, the patient needs to wash hands with soap and water and dry them.
Then, the exact measure of medication must be put into the nebulizer cup although most medications are already in premeasured unit dose vials. The nebulizer cup and a mask or mouthpiece must be assembled and tubes to the aerosol compressor and nebulizer cup connected.
Then, a patient can turn on the compressor and if it is working correctly, a light mist will come from the back of the tube opposite the mouthpiece. The patient must sit down and put the mask on the face and secure it or put a mouthpiece between teeth and seal the lip around it.
The patient must take slow, deep breaths and hold each breath for few (2-3) seconds before breaths out if is possible. The treatment usually lasts 10 minutes. At the end, the nebulizer will make a sputtering noise.
If patients during the treatment feel dizzy, he/she must stop the treatment, rest for few minutes and continue with the treatment breathing more slowly. If this continues in future treatments, the patient must inform the doctor.
After every treatment, the patient must clean the nebulizer cup and mask or mouthpiece in a dust- and smoke-free area away from open windows by washing them in warm soapy water with mild detergent rinsed thoroughly and air dried.
After washing, every third day, the equipment must be disinfected by using either a vinegar/water solution or the disinfectant solution. For vinegar solution, 1/2 cup white vinegar must ml mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water and equipment soaked for 20 minutes and rinse well under a steady stream of water.
The excess water must be shaken off and air dried on a paper towel completely before storing in a plastic, zippered bag. The compressor must be stored covered with a clean cloth when not in use.
Keep it clean by wiping it with a clean, damp cloth as needed. Medications must be stored in a cool, dry place and checked often. If they change in color or crystals format, the medications must be thrown away and replaced with new ones.
The patient must also check the air compressor's filter so it can be replaced or cleaned according to the directions from the equipment supplier.