How to Use a Nebulizer for COVID Safely and Effectively

The impact of the pandemic has left many people wondering how to use a nebulizer for COVID.

Although research is still emerging about whether it’s a valid treatment for COVID-19, many myths and fallacies have arisen online.

Knowing how nebulizers can safely be used during the pandemic is essential for patients currently prescribed respiratory therapy.

Table of Contents

    How to Use a Nebulizer for COVID

    Since the onset of the pandemic, different health organizations, such as the American Lung Association, have looked into using a nebulizer with COVID-19.

    It’s important to note that research is still ongoing; however, most sources agree that continuing respiratory therapy is ideal.

    If you have been previously diagnosed with a respiratory ailment such as COPD, avoiding treatments can do more harm than good.

    With that said, there is some risk to using a nebulizer when diagnosed with COVID-19.

    The disease gets transmitted through sneezing and coughing, and it poses a significant risk to healthcare professionals administering respiratory therapy.

    There are some recommendations to follow whether continuing nebulized therapy at home or in a healthcare setting.

    Step 1: Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

    You must first speak to your doctor whenever you are dealing with an ailment as serious as COVID-19.

    This is particularly important for patients with preexisting respiratory ailments, as COVID-19 can considerably worsen your symptoms.

    You will want to tell your doctor that you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 so they can provide you with an at-home treatment plan.

    Step 2: Complete Treatments in Isolation

    As mentioned, it’s essential to remember COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory means like coughing and sneezing.

    You will want to ensure that you complete your nebulizer treatments in isolation, separate from other household members.

    Likely, you’ll already be isolated due to COVID-19, but this step is the most important to consider.

    It’s always a good idea to designate a specific area of your home as a “sick room.”

    This area is where you can complete your treatments and allow your body time to heal.

    All other members of your household should avoid the sick room unless they get sick themselves.

    According to the American Lung Association, finding an outdoor area to complete your treatments can be best.

    This will prevent the aerosolized droplets from concentrating in one space, protecting others in your household.

    If you cannot go outdoors, ensure no one enters your treatment or sick room for at least two hours after your treatment.

    Step 3: Sanitization Is Key

    You might assume that sanitization isn’t important since you’re the only one using your nebulizer with COVID-19.

    However, it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of using any medical equipment while ill.

    Not only will you want to take care to disinfect your nebulizer after a treatment, but beforehand as well.

    It’s also essential to remember your personal hygiene before administering respiratory therapy.

    Always ensure your hands are thoroughly sanitized before, during, and after your nebulizer session.

    Any time your hands get potentially exposed to aerosolized droplets, they should be disinfected.

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    How to Clean Your Nebulizer

    Fortunately, the general design of a nebulizer is relatively straightforward, making it easy to maintain.

    There are a few easy-to-follow steps that you can use to ensure your device is adequately sanitized when you’re dealing with COVID. These steps include:

    Disassemble the Nebulizer

    First, you’ll want to ensure you take apart the entire device, as this will make it simpler to clean.

    It’s also recommended you look at the manufacturer’s instructions to learn about the specific cleaning steps for your device.

    Some nebulizers need to be hand-washed, while others have specific parts that you can put in the dishwasher.

    Clean the Nebulizer

    Once you have all of the parts disassembled, it’s time to create a cleaning solution.

    Some prefer to use white vinegar and warm water, while others enjoy using a mild detergent, such as dishwashing soap.

    You’ll want to ensure you thoroughly clean all parts of your nebulizer apart from the finger valve, tubing, and compressor.

    You might be tempted to clean the tubing of the device, but you don’t want water to get into any hard-to-reach areas.

    It’s better to focus your cleaning efforts on the mouthpiece and other parts that directly touch your face.

    Allow for Drying Time

    After washing your nebulizer components, it’s time to let it dry completely.

    You can use a soft, disinfected cloth to speed up the process.

    However, must air dry the components for a couple of hours to ensure the interior parts aren’t wet.

    After a couple of hours, another great way to ensure the entire device is dry is to connect all parts to the compressor.

    Without medicine in the nebulizer, turn the compressor on, allowing air to travel through the tubing. This extra step will ensure there isn’t any water left behind.

    Store the Nebulizer Safely

    One of the most important steps to cleaning your nebulizer is to ensure it’s stored safely.

    First, it should be completely dry and in a protective case or have a covering.

    You’ll want to ensure that dirt and dust don’t make their way into the machine, as this can significantly impact the quality of your treatments.

    Clean the Device Regularly

    As mentioned, it is important to take the time to disinfect your nebulizer regularly.

    You’ll want to ensure you clean the device after every use, especially if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

    You should also implement a daily and weekly cleaning to keep the nebulizer as sanitized as possible.

    Complete Treatments as Prescribed

    Once you have established a safe and controlled space for at-home respiratory therapy, continue with your treatments as your doctor suggests.

    The dangers of avoiding treatment for your preexisting ailment are considerable, especially with COVID-19.

    You must allow the medicine in your nebulizer to alleviate your respiratory tract and lungs, giving your body a better chance to fight off the illness.

    Know When to Call 911

    As the final step to using a nebulizer safely with COVID, you must know when the best time is to call 911.

    If you are experiencing any respiratory distress, it’s better to rely on the professional experience of your doctors.

    They will have the appropriate equipment to provide you with sufficient treatment for your preexisting condition and COVID-19.

    You must alert the emergency personnel that you have a confirmed or potential case of COVID.

    This process ensures the medical team is adequately prepared to take you to the hospital so you can receive treatment.

    FAQs About Using a Nebulizer Safely With COVID-19

    As you can gather, there are plenty of questions about using a nebulizer for COVID.

    Let’s explore some of the most commonly asked things to help you better prepare yourself.

    1. Do nebulizers make COVID symptoms worse?

    Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that using a nebulizer makes COVID symptoms worse.

    However, evidence suggests avoiding treatments can cause more harm to your respiratory tract with COVID.

    As long as you take the necessary precautions to ensure you’re treating yourself safely, you also won’t pose a risk to others around you.

    2. Should I use my nebulizer differently when sick with COVID?

    Regardless of the symptoms you’re feeling, you must follow the directions of your healthcare practitioner when using a nebulizer with COVID.

    Your doctor will likely recommend you don’t change your standard medication dosage.

    Also, you’ll most likely stick to your original treatment schedule when using your nebulizer.

    One of the primary areas bound to change with your treatments is sanitization.

    You can expect to spend more time cleaning your equipment than before.

    Also, if you have any pressing questions, ensure you speak to your doctor before making any adjustments.

    3. Will my nebulizer protect me against getting COVID-19?

    Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that using a nebulizer will prevent you from contracting COVID-19.

    However, maintaining your regular treatments is essential to ensure your lungs are in their best condition if you fall ill.

    All patients must ensure their respiratory illnesses are well controlled throughout the pandemic.

    It’s important to note there are three primary groups of individuals most at risk of severe illness from COVID, including:

    • Patients who are immunocompromised
    • Patients with moderate to severe asthma and chronic lung disease
    • Individuals of any age with underlying health conditions

    4. Where should I use my nebulizer for treatments?

    The primary concern of COVID is that it spreads through droplet transmission.

    Using a nebulizer in any area where the virus is present poses a considerable risk.

    If possible, it’s best to continue with treatments in a private, quarantined space.

    This is particularly important if you have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19 or if any of your family members are ill.

    Ensuring the disease cannot spread in your immediate area is important.

    5. Can I go to the hospital for nebulizer treatments?

    When the pandemic first began, hospitals were taking every precaution possible to prevent the spread of the disease.

    One of these precautions was to stop nebulizer treatments, especially for patients who have been diagnosed with COVID.

    However, these precautions have changed, with more hospitals returning to their standard operations.

    It is good to confirm whether your regular hospital still offers nebulizer treatments.

    But, as hospital staff has access to the right PPE, including PAPRs, gowns, and N-95 masks, they can protect themselves adequately.

    Using this equipment allows patients to receive the treatment they need for respiratory care.

    COVID and Nebulizers

    Learning how to use a nebulizer for COVID isn’t much different than if you were using it regularly.

    The most important step is to ensure you listen to your doctor’s instructions and advise them of your medical status.

    By keeping your device clean and completing treatments in an isolated room, you can manage your preexisting condition while preventing the spread of the illness in your home.

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