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- Croup. Croup is the result of one of the viruses that causes the common cold. It causes airway swelling that leads a child to develop a barking cough, runny nose, or fever.
- Cystic fibrosis. This genetic disease can cause thick mucus to build up in the airways, clogging them and making it harder to breathe.
- Epiglottitis. This rare condition is a result of the Haemophilus influenzae type B bacteria that can cause pneumonia. It causes severe airway swelling that leads to an abnormal, high-pitched sound when breathing.
- Pneumonia. Pneumonia is a severe illness involving inflamed lungs. It usually requires hospitalization in babies. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and changes in a baby’s alertness.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a condition that often causes mild, coldlike symptoms. While severe symptoms aren’t common in older children, infants can develop inflammation of the small airways (bronchiolitis).
- a jet or compressor nebulizer
- an ultrasonic unit
Delivery methodsNebulizer manufacturers have worked to make nebulizers more child-friendly. Some of the delivery methods include a face mask or a pacifier attachment for infants. A mask is preferred for infants, because they often breathe through the nose instead of the mouth. As a child gets older (usually age 6 or older), they may use a handheld mouthpiece instead of a mask. This allows more of the medication to enter the lungs instead of escaping around the mask.
- Inhaled antibiotics. Some antibiotics are available via nebulizer treatment. An example is TOBI. It’s a form of tobramycin used to treat certain bacterial infections.
- Inhaled beta-agonists. These medications include albuterol or levoalbuterol. They’re used to relax the airways and make breathing easier.
- Inhaled corticosteroids. These can treat inflammation due to asthma.
- Dornase alfa (Pulmozyme). This medication helps treat cystic fibrosis by loosening thick mucus in the airways.
- Collect the medication for the nebulizer. Some are available in liquid form that have the medicine added. Others are a liquid or powder that must be mixed with sterile water or saline solution. Read the directions carefully before pouring the medication in the cup.
- Connect one end of the tubing to the cup of medication and the other to the nebulizer.
- Connect the mask or pacifier to the cup.
- Hold the mask to your child’s face. While many of the infant masks come with strings to put around a baby’s head, most babies don’t tolerate these strings very well. It may be easier to gently hold the mask touching the child’s face and cover their nose and mouth.
- Turn the nebulizer on.
- Hold the mask to your child’s face while the treatment bubbles and creates a mist inside the mask.
- You’ll know when the treatment is complete when the mist becomes less noticeable and the little cup appears almost dry.
- Clean the mask and nebulizer after each use.
- Use the nebulizer at times your baby is more likely to be sleepy and tolerate treatments better. This includes after meals, before a nap, or at bedtime.
- If noise seems to bother your baby, place the nebulizer on a towel or rug to reduce noise from the vibrations. Using longer tubing can also help, because the noisiest part isn’t close to your baby.
- Hold your child upright in your lap during the treatment. Sitting upright helps deliver more medication throughout the lungs because they can breathe more deeply.
- Swaddle your baby if they’re more comfortable that way during treatment.
- Unscrew the plastic portion of the device. Soak it in warm, soapy water for at least 15 minutes.
- If you like, you can also disinfect the nebulizer with 2 teaspoons of chlorine bleach with 2 cups of tap water. Always keep disinfectants out of reach of children.
- After letting it soak, rinse thoroughly. Allow it to air-dry.
- Store the nebulizer in a clean, dry environment when not in use.
|Effective method to deliver aerosolized medications.||Can spread contaminated mist if not properly cleaned between uses.|
|Features delivery routes, such as pacifiers or masks ideal for infants.||Takes longer than an inhaler, and may require replacement.|
|Available in portable options that are easy to travel with.||Can result in some side effects, depending on the medication used.|