One piece of equipment that many asthmatics come to learn intimately is a nebulizer. A nebulizer is quite simply a breathing machine that turns liquid medicine into a mist making it easy to inhale. The jet nebulizer is the most common type used, especially for children.
These nebulizers are very easy to use and allow the children to inhale medicine through a mask or a mouthpiece by just breathing naturally. This ensures that more medication is delivered to the bronchioles and the lungs as opposed to using an inhaler, where most of the medication is delivered to the back of the throat unless used properly. These inhalers are more difficult for young children because they require a high degree of coordination of hands, mouth and breathing.
Because nebulizers make it easier for infants and young children to get more of the medication they are most often used in children. However, using the nebulizer requires the use of a mask over both the nose and mouth which can feel claustrophobic to some young children. Once parents have gotten the hang of setting the nebulizer up, it is important to incorporate a few different techniques to make the time easier for both you and your child.
It is important to get into a routine when using the nebulizer with your child. For instance use it at the same time each day so the child knows what to expect and when. Set up the machinery in the same way and sit in the same place in the house. You can also make this special time with your child by allowing the toddler to sit in your lap or on a special chair in the house just for his nebulizer treatments.
Some parents have found success making this time fun for the child by pulling out special toys or reading during the treatment. Although the mask may feel a bit claustrophobic children respond well by pretending to be a pilot, an astronaut or a fire fighter. It’s helpful to be able to read books about pilots, astronauts or firefighters during the nebulizer treatment.
Put your child in charge of some aspect of his treatment. By setting up a calendar which the child can mark after each treatment or by using a sticker system for the child to decorate the children have a better sense of control over their environment.
Most of the time insurance companies will pay for nebulizers for the family. At one time they were rented through durable medical equipment providers but because the cost of owning one at home has decreased so significantly they are now purchased.
Regular care of the nebulizer system is very important to maintain proper operation and longevity. It is important to note that different systems may require different cleaning procedures and that referencing the manufacturer’s instructions is important.
If certain parts are dishwasher safe you might use a dishwasher safe basket on the top rack of the dishwasher to sterilize the equipment every couple of days. Otherwise they can be washed by hand in warm water and dishwashing soap and then rinsed thoroughly. They should be left out to air dry so that no bacteria grows in a moist environment.
During use, the compressor should be a level surface near an electrical outlet and plugged in. Once the treatment is over, the equipment should be unplugged from the wall and replaced in an area where children cannot reach it and play with it. Wash your hands thoroughly before mixing the medication and to decrease the risk of transmitting bacteria into the child’s lungs.
Run the nebulizer treatment until the medication is completely gone. The nebulizer cups should remain in the upright position to allow for the best mist possible.
Plan ahead. Nebulizers are not usually used on a daily basis over months at a time. Once the treatments are no longer active, the nebulizer should be washed, clean thoroughly, dried and stored in a clean, dry and dust free the location. Inspect the parts prior to storing the nebulizer and replace any parts or supplies that will be required before it is put into use again.
Nebulizers are a wonderful addition to the treatment plan for delivering bronchodilators to children. They increase the amount of medication which a child will receive while decreasing their risk of hospitalization for an asthma attack gone out of control. By keeping your nebulizer in good working condition you will help to improve the health of those children in your home who suffer from asthma.