Can You Use a Nebuliser for Treating Cough?

It gets very challenging to do your work or everyday chores when you are experiencing a persistent cough. Among various ways available for treating respiratory illnesses, a nebuliser works great in treating cough caused by the inflammation of the airways.

A nebuliser is preferred because it treats the underlying causes of the cough and thereby provides quick relief from the symptoms. It is a breathing machine that enables you to inhale medicated vapours that reach directly to the airways.

Even though a nebuliser helps treat cough effectively, it is not always prescribed, and you shouldn’t use it without a proper diagnosis and a doctor’s prescription. Nevertheless, it is suitable for kids and patients in younger age groups who find it inconvenient to use handheld inhalers.

Keep reading this article to learn in detail about the advantages and precautions of using nebulisers.

How do Nebulisers Relieve Coughing?

Before you discuss using a nebuliser for cough relief with your doctor, you must consider determining the underlying cause of your persistent cough or other symptoms of respiratory illnesses.

To begin with, you must understand that coughing is not a disease but a symptom. You experience coughing in response to various lung and throat irritants.

Your coughing may be caused by various acute and chronic diseases, including allergies, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),

common cold, exposure to smoke, post-nasal drip, lung irritation, heart or lung diseases.

A nebuliser provides medication in the form of a mist that is inhaled into your lungs. It uses the body’s natural breathing for transporting the medicines into the lungs. Thus, a nebuliser helps in administering the medication effectively and quickly as compared to handheld inhalers.

Nebuliser treatment effectively reduces inflammation in the open airways, treating lung complications and respiratory diseases like asthma, COPD, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, etc.

If you have a chronic cough, you need a long-term treatment plan for reducing your lung-related symptoms. Ensure to discuss with your doctor first before using a nebuliser so that you can administer the proper medication and its dosage.

How to Use a Nebuliser?

Once your doctor has prescribed using a nebuliser for treating your acute or chronic lung diseases like asthma, COPD, etc., you can start using a nebuliser for taking your medications.

For that, you need to learn how to use a nebuliser.

A nebuliser consists of the following components.

  • Medicine cup
  • Top piece or cap for attaching mask or mouthpiece to the medicine cup
  • Thin plastic tubing for connecting the nebuliser to the mouthpiece
  • Compressor or air machine that can be easily plugged into an electrical socket while using indoors or car adapter for portable use on the go

You can follow the below-mentioned steps for administering the medications using a nebuliser.

  • Wash your hands and pour the prescribed dosage of medicine into the medicine cup
  • Attach the top piece of your nebuliser to its medicine cup, and then fix the mouthpiece or mask in its designated place
  • Use a tube for connecting the compressor to the medicine cup.
  • Place the mask over the face of the patient or keep the mouthpiece in the mouth between the teeth, and ask the patient to close his lips around it tightly.
  • Switch on the plug to start running the compressor
  • Keep the nebuliser in an upright position for preventing spillage and ensuring the proper distribution of medications.
  • Ask the patient to take normal regular breaths through the mouth for extending the reach of medicines deep into your lungs.
  • Keep running the nebuliser until all the medicine is used from the medicine cup.

Nebulisers are generally prescribed for patients who find it challenging to inhalers or inhale deeply enough with other devices.

How to Use a Nebuliser for Cough Relief?

A nebuliser is used as a preventive measure on a short term basis for reducing inflammation and airways constriction so that you can breathe easily and get relief from coughing. Using a nebuliser treatment involves inhaling medicated vapours to help break the mucus.

Your doctor may prescribe liquid medications for treating coughs, such as albuterol, ipratropium, hypertonic saline, budesonide, and formoterol.

When using a nebuliser treatment for cough relief, ensure that you have a nebuliser along with a spacer or mask for helping you to breathe in the vaporized medications.

In case you don’t possess a nebuliser at home, your doctor may prescribe both the machine and the necessary medications. If you have a nebuliser, ensure to ask for the proper instructions for using it from your healthcare provider.

As soon as you turn on the nebuliser, you can see vapours coming from the spacer or mask within a few seconds. This indicates that you have placed the medication properly.

Ensure to take regular normal breaths while the nebuliser is running. It takes around 15-20 mins to inhale the complete dosage of medication. Please turn off the nebuliser when it stops producing the vapour.

If you have a persistent cough or severe breathing issues, you may need multiple nebuliser treatments per day for experiencing relief in symptoms.

Using Nebulisers in Children for Relieving Coughs

A paediatrician may prescribe a nebuliser for relieving cough in children as the kids may find it tedious to use inhalers. However, as a parent, you must always seek your doctor’s prescription for using nebuliser and medications to relieve cough in your kids.

Nebulisers serve as an excellent way for providing quick respiratory relief in kids on an outpatient basis. This machine helps administer medications deeply into the airways and lungs to relieve chronic breathing problems due to bronchitis, asthma, etc.

While nebuliser provides a great way of breathing medication, its lengthy-time duration of 15 mins to 20 mins is a bit too much for the kids to sit still with patience till the entire liquid medicine is vaporised.

Therefore you must consult with your child’s paediatrician and discuss all the available options for treating cough. Depending on the underlying causes of the cough, a nebuliser may be used alone, or it may complement other respiratory treatments for treating respiratory illnesses.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If your cough lasts longer than a few weeks or you struggle with a lingering cough, it may indicate serious respiratory illness. Likewise, if your cough worsens after healing from a cold or flu virus, it indicates cause for concern, and you need to see a doctor for proper treatment.

Visit your child’s paediatrician f your child is showing the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Audible wheezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bluish skin

Moreover, you need to seek emergency care if you or your child experiences a cough along with the following symptoms:

  • Bloody mucus,
  • Choking sensations
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Vomiting

How to Clean Your Nebuliser

You should clean your nebuliser after every use. Then, follow the below-mentioned steps for cleaning your nebuliser effectively.

  • Unassemble your nebuliser by separating the tubing and keeping it aside. Ensure to never keep your tube underwater.
  • Separate the mask and medicine cup from the top piece of the nebuliser and keep all of them on the dishwasher’s top shelf
  • Alternatively, you can also wash the mask, medicine cup, and top piece in warm soapy water, followed by rinsing them thoroughly.
  • Once you have washed the various nebuliser components, remove the excess water and allow these pieces to air-dry in a dry and cool place.

In addition to regular cleaning after every use, you may also do a thorough cleaning of your nebuliser once every week by following the below-mentioned steps.

  • Prepare a solution of white vinegar and water. Soak the mask, medicine cup, and top piece of your nebuliser in this solution for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, rinse the soaked pieces and allow them to air-dry in a cool and dry place.
  • Use a disinfectant wipe or soapy cloth for cleaning the outside of tubing or surface of the compressor.
  • Ensure that the tubing and compressor should not get submerged in water.
  • After every six months, replace the air filter of your compressor (Refer to your user manual for specific recommendations)

Precautions to Take Care of While Using a Nebuliser

It’s very easy to use a nebuliser if you follow the recommended instructions. It is also safe to use in babies and small kids. Keep in mind the following precautions while using a nebuliser.

  • Don’t share your medications with your kids, friends, or family members.
  • Always use the recommended dosage as prescribed by your doctor based on the individual’s health requirements.
  • Ensure to keep your nebulisers clean as liquid emitted through the machine may serve as a breeding ground for mould.
  • Clean and dry the components of nebulisers, including mask, spacer, and tube, instantly after each usage.
  • Before cleaning your nebuliser, ensure to follow the cleaning instructions mentioned in the user manual. Ideally, you can clean your nebuliser using alcohol, dishwasher, soap and sterile water.
  • Ensure to air dry all the pieces of the nebuliser after cleaning
Dr. Sachin Bille

Dr. Sachin is a medical content writer at and has a keen interest to inform people about useful and effective medical gadgets. Apart from practicing medicine and writing, he loves to watch sci-fi movies & spend time with family.

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