Nebulizer for Kids: Facts, Benefits, Side Effects and Precaution


Nebulizer is a machine that atomizes liquid or powdered medicines into fine droplets, and creates an aerosol spray or mist. This mist or spray can be easily inhaled by a child, infant or toddler. Inhaling a mist of medicine is far more easy and convenient than the oral dosage. Moreover, the nebulizer helps the medicine to dissipate faster in the lungs and hence provide a quicker relief.

Nebulizers are almost similar to inhalers in respect to providing relief from respiratory problems. However, younger children and infant, who may be afraid to use an inhaler, can be treated in a much easier way by using a nebulizer.

Read More: Asthma in Children: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

A Guide for Usage of Nebulizer for Kids


How does a nebulizer work?

A nebulizer is used to provide liquid or powdered medicines to the body through lungs. To achieve this, following steps may be helpful.

  • The first step is to pour the liquid medicine into the medicine cup provided in the nebulizer machine. If the medicine is in powder form, the medicine is mixed with water or saline to give a solution. This solution is then filled in the medicine cup.
  • The cup filled with medicine should then be attached to the mask or pacifier as per the age of child.
  • Once the cup is connected to the mask, switch ON the nebulizer machine keeping the mask close to the child’s mouth.
  • As the machine operates, the liquid medicine is converted into inhalable mist. The treatment ends when the medicine cup is emptied.

A nebulizer machine must be thoroughly cleaned after every use. It is also recommended to sterilize the machine after each use. Through cleaning of the machine requires soaking the parts into warm water and soap solution and then rinsing it thoroughly with water.  The medicine cup needs to be changed after a certain period of time to help machine work properly.


Read More: Dry Drowning: Signs, symptoms, treatment

When do you need a nebulizer?

A nebulizer is recommended by a doctor, most generally, in cases of chronic conditions in kids or infants. It is used when the airway is either partially or fully blocked which results in problem with breathing. Asthma is the most common disease in which a nebulizer may be recommended. Other diseases, due to which a nebulizer may be advised, include croup, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

The symptoms of these diseases are very mild and can be overseen. The major symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain and difficulty in breathing. If any or all of these symptoms occur in a child a doctor must be consulted before using the nebulizer.

For children who suffer with chronic illnesses like Asthma, or genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, a regular usage of nebulizer may be advised. The usage should be as per the child doctor’s recommendation. In such cases, the usage of nebulizer must not be overdone. Many serious consequences may occur due to over usage of the nebulizer.

Types of Nebulizers

There are two types of nebulizers available in the market, i.e. the compressor type and the ultrasonic machine. The compressor type is more common for treating breathing ailments in children.

Compressor type nebulizer

The compressor type nebulizer uses compressed air to convert the liquid medicine into mist. It uses the jet (or piston) mechanism to produce compressed air which in turn converts the liquid medicine into aerosol spray. This type of nebulizer has adjustable particle size, and the treatment time may vary accordingly. A compressor type nebulizer is very noisy while preparing the mist.


Ultrasonic machine nebulizer

The ultrasonic machine nebulizer uses ultrasonic waves to convert the liquid medicine into aerosol spray. This type of nebulizer is very quiet compared to the compressor type and the treatment time is just about six minutes. However, all medicines cannot be taken using ultrasonic machine. This is because the ultrasonic machine heats up the medicine in order to convert it into mist; this may hamper the quality of the medicine. In case you are using an ultrasonic machine, it is recommended to consult the child doctor first.

Medicines for nebulizer

In general, nebulizers may be used either with or without medicines. For cough and cold where the mucus builtup is very high and causes breathing problem, saline water can be used in a nebulizer to provide relief. For the children suffering with chronic or genetic diseases, like asthma and cystic fibrosis, nebulizers are filled with medicinal liquid. These are generally non steroid anti inflammatory medicines. Steroid medicines are prescribed for SOS cases only.

How safe is a nebulizer?

Nebulizer is a very safe and effective way to deal with respiratory disorders. Kids, toddlers as well as infants can use nebulizer without potential risks. Although, the process is very safe, there may be some side effects in rare cases.

  • Soaring or drying of the throat
  • An unlikely taste in the mouth
  • Feeling of nausea or headache
  • In very severe cases, bleeding nose or stomach ache may occur

Most of the side effects are due to the medicine and not the nebulizer. However, using a nebulizer machine very often may lead to serious problem. In case breathing problem increases after using a nebulizer, doctor must be consulted as soon as possible. If the nebulizer is not used properly or is used too often, child may encounter rashes, severe headache or chest tightening. In such cases it is advised to visit a doctor at the earliest.

Cleaning a nebulizer machine

Cleaning a nebulizer machine, after every use, is very important. The entire plastic portion that may be detached, the medicine cup and the mask must be properly cleaned and disinfected. If the parts are left unclean bacteria and fungus may grow resulting in severe infection and ailment of the child or infant.

How much does the nebulizer cost?

Nebulizer machines are not very costly and are readily available with most of the retailers. These machines are also available online and they provide a huge collection to choose from. Typically, a nebulizer machine costs around $40-$50. Most of the medical insurance policies nowadays include nebulizer machine. Thus, it is recommended to go through your insurance policy before buying a machine.

Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!