How to Use and Clean Your Nebulizer

Using your nebulizer machine (also called aerosol therapy treatment machine) for the first time could be daunting. Don’t worry — we’re here to help. Here are the steps that you need to do to prepare, use, maintain and troubleshoot your nebulizer or aerosol therapy treatment machine.

Preparing Your Nebulizer for Use

  1. Place the machine on a flat surface near where you will be comfortably seated.
  2. With the machine in the OFF position, plug in the power cord nearest you.
  3. Remove the circuit from the plastic package and remove the nebulizer. Unscrew the nebulizer lid by turning it counterclockwise and lifting up.
  4. Place the recommended amount of medication in the nebulizer jar and replace the nebulizer lid.
  5. Connect the mouthpiece to the “T” piece and place it on the top of the nebulizer.
  6. Attach the piece of tubing, one end to the side of the nebulizer and the other end to the nipple on the machine.
  7. Shake nebulizer cup to mix medication better and repeat periodically during the treatment.

Taking Your Nebulizer Treatment

  1. Turn the power switch “ON.”
  2. Check pulse before and after treatment by placing index finger over the radial artery located on the underside of the wrist below the thumb. Count the number of beats per minute; that’s your heart rate. (Number of beats for six seconds x 10 = heartrate.)
  3. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth.
  4. Inhale slowly and deeply with your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  5. Pause at the end of each breath for 1-2 seconds, then exhale slowly and completely.
  6. Repeat the sequence until all of the medication is nebulized.
  7. Pause during the treatment to cough, if necessary. If you are able to produce sputum, note the amount, thickness and color. When you cough, take three slow breaths in and cough strong on the third breath. It is very important to take slow deep breaths and cough.

After Your Treatment is Finished

  1. Disconnect the nebulizer cup, mouthpiece and “T” piece.
  2. Rinse all parts under hot tap water; shake off excess water and place parts on a paper towel to air-dry.
  3. DO NOT place parts in a dishwasher. DO NOT towel dry.

Daily Cleaning

After your last treatment for the day, disassemble the entire circuit and clean in vinegar and water solution. See attached form on cleaning and sterilization procedures.

Bi-Monthly Cleaning

  1. Dispose of old circuit and attach a clean, new circuit.
  2. Wipe your machine clean of dust.
  3. Check and change filter.
  4. If any other problems occur, call the pharmacy where you purchased your aerosol therapy machine.


Here are some of the issues that you may encounter when using your aerosol therapy machine and how to fix them.

Machine Does Not Turn On

  1. Check to see that the power cord is plugged in.
  2. Check to see that there is power to the outlet.
  3. Check to see that the machine switch is “ON.”

No Mist is Produced or Mist is Poor

  1. Check to see that the tubing is securely fastened both to the nebulizer machine and to the nebulizer circuit itself.
  2. Check to see that the medication cup is tightly screwed onto the nebulizer assembly.
  3. Make sure that there is medication in the nebulizer cup.
  4. Check to see that the small tube inside the nebulizer cup is attached to the nebulizer assembly and that it is not plugged up.
  5. If steps (1) through (4) do not correct the problem, call the pharmacy where you purchased your aerosol therapy machine.


Medications used may have side effects. Use only those medications your doctor has prescribed and, in the dosage your doctor has prescribed. Possible side-effects include:

  1. Rapid breathing
  2. Rapid heartbeat
  3. Check your heart rate before and after treatment. * Note: If heart rate is greater than 120 beats per minute before treatment, wait until it goes down to your normal pulse rate.
  4. Dizziness and/or tingling of the hands and feet
  5. Nausea
  6. Coughing up blood

STOP your treatment if any of these conditions exist and contact your physician if they should re-occur during your next treatment. It is advisable to wait at least 30 minutes after any meal before taking a treatment. Don’t overuse nebulizer medications. Use as directed. If wheezing, shortness of breath, dyspnea or chest pain occurs and doesn’t improve; contact your physician or call 911.

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