Patient & Family Education Materials

Start over with a New Search


Article Translations: (Spanish)

What is a nebulizer?

A nebulizer treatment ("neb") gives medicine as a fine mist that is breathed into the lungs through a mask or a mouthpiece. You will have a nebulizer machine and a nebulizer cup to put the medicine in.

How to use a nebulizer machine

The following is an example of what a nebulizer cup may look like. They are different types of machines and cups so it is important to have your health care provider show you how to use it.

For infants and young children

For older children and teens

Sometimes more than one medicine will be used. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about mixing the medicines together.

Hold the neb cup in an upright position for the whole treatment. The treatment will last about 7-10 minutes. Use either a facemask or a mouthpiece to deliver the medicine. Just blowing the medicine at the nose and mouth does not get the medicine into the lungs.

Face mask – a face mask should be used for younger children.

Mouthpiece – for older kids a mouthpiece can be used. Place the mouthpiece over the tongue and between the teeth. You should be able to see the mist at the opposite end disappear as the medicine is inhaled.

How should I care for the equipment?

  • Clean the parts of the nebulizer according to the directions that come with the machine.
  • Some nebulizer cups are disposable and should be used for one week only. After one week the cup will not get the medicine into the lungs effectively. Ask your health care provider or company which one you have. Keep extra supplies on hand at home.
  • Use a non-disposable neb cup and replace every 6 months.

Write down the name of the company that supplied the machine in case you have problems or need more supplies.


This is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions, call your doctor.

Last reviewed by Respiratory Care 8/2015

Back To Top

This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

© 2024 Children's Minnesota