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Cystic Fibrosis: Nebulizer treatments

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.

The following is an example of what a nebulizer cup may look like. There 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

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.

Sometimes more than one medicine will be used. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about mixing the medicines together. Use a separate neb cup for medicines that cannot be mixed together.

Hold the neb cup in an upright position for the whole treatment. The treatment will last about 10 minutes (or longer depending on the medicine). 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.

How should I care for the equipment?

  • Use the directions outlined on page 2 for cleaning and disinfection the nebulizer parts; or, follow 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.

Cleaning and disinfecting the nebulizer

Clean and disinfect the neb cup at least once a day. Do not put the parts together or store them in a closed container until completely dry. When dry, keep the neb cup in a clean, dry, covered place.

Reusable nebulizer cups

  1. Take apart the neb cup.
  2. Wash parts in warm soapy water, using liquid dish soap or Dreft® soap (these tend to leave less residue). Use a paper towel or small brush to clean parts well.
  3. Rinse parts in clean, warm water.
  4. Disinfect parts in one of these ways:
    • Put parts in a pan and cover with tap water. Boil 5 minutes.
    • Put parts in a bowl of water and microwave for 5 minutes.
  5. Let cool. Remove parts from water, place on clean paper towels, and let them air dry.


Place the parts in the top rack of a dishwasher, electric steam sterilizer (such as Wabi) or microwave steam sterilizing bag (such as those used for breast pump supplies).

Remove parts when the cycle is complete and place on clean paper towels until dry. If the water is hotter than 158° F for 30 minutes, there is no need to disinfect parts.

Aerosol mask

Wash the mask with warm soapy water, rinse with warm tap water, and wipe dry.


If you have any questions please call the clinic.

Last reviewed 4/2020

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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

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