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Is Nebulisation Safe For Kids Suffering from Cough and Cold?

Published on: 24 January , 2019 | Rupal Mohta

No parent can bear the sight of a runny nose and a bad bout of cough. Every little change in weather can trigger cold and flu like symptoms and be a cause of sleepless nights and uncomfortable days. In addition to weather little kids are highly sensitive to germs and exposure to germs either at play schools or at play grounds or public places can make them sick. Almost every bout of cold and flu triggers allergy like symptoms’ and reactions and you may find your child in a state of severe discomfort. Mostly flu brings along congestion of the chest too and pediatricians recommend Nebulizing as an effective treatment to relieve this congestion, But the question is Is Nebulisation Safe For Kids Suffering from Cough and Cold? You can also Read :

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Nebulisation for kids brings along multiple questions in the mind of a parent such as:
  • Is this the only option to cure my kid?
  • Is Nebulisation safe?
  • Does Nebulisation have any side effects?
  • Do other drugs work with Nebulisation?
Through the article I will answer some of the most common questions associated with Nebulisation.

What is Nebulisation and what is a nebuliser?

Nebulisation is a method of delivering drugs in the form of a mist that is inhaled in to the lungs. The prescribed drugs are poured into a device called a nebuliser and through a pipe and mask the mist is inhaled by the user. Nebuliser is used to treat disorders such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD, respiratory ailments such as cold, flu and the like. Both kids and adults can use a nebuliser.A Nebuliser makes use of oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic power in order to break up the medical solutions into small aerosol droplets that are inhaled by the user for faster relief. There are two types of Nebulisers namely mechanical and electrical.

FAQ’s about Nebulisation in case of kids that you may ask:

When it comes to nebulisation, as a parent you may have a barrage of questions, particularly those concerning the requirement and effectiveness of the method. In the case of little kids, doctors advise nebulisation as a route to administer medicines particularly when a child has marked nasal/chest congestion or both. Nebulisation is known to relieve congestion and give the child a peaceful night’s rest and sleep; which in turn help speed up the route to recovery. Mentioned below are certain FAQ’s related to nebulisation:

1.Which type of medicines can be used with a nebuliser?

 To nebulise your child you need to pour the required medicine into the nebuliser and then your child has to inhale the medicine in the form of a mist. Nebulisers can be used in any of the following two ways:  
  • With a medicated liquid: Medicated liquids are chiefly used in the case of patients who may be suffering from allergic rhinitis, COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma etc. Doctors will prescribe the medicine, dosage and frequency of nebulisation depending upon each individual case.
  • With a non-medicated liquid: Not every time there is a requirement to give medicated liquids through the nebuliser. In cases such as a dry nose, doctors may ask you to use the nebuliser to give normal saline (available at medical stores) to the child. This in turn will help in moistening the child’s mucous membrane and relieve conditions related to dryness. Do not use salt mixed with water for dispensation through your nebuliser.

2.How does a nebuliser work?

When you nebulise your child, you dispense the liquid medication into the nebuliser and the nebuliser converts this liquid in to mist and then the medication is dispersed through tiny clouds of airborne water droplets either through oxygen or ultrasonic power or compressed air. This mist is then inhaled by the patient for quick relief.

3.Can a nebuliser be used on a child safely?

Nebulisation is often pre-conceived as a device that is to be used only by an adult and that too in chronic congestion or other critical medical issues. However you must understand that this is merely a misconception. In the case of small kids administering oral medication may be an uphill task. Also younger kids cannot spit out the sputum like adults. In such cases nebulisation works as a safe and effective way to administer the required medication with or without a mask through the nebuliser. Children will soon feel relaxed and will be able to breathe better with a marked reduction in congestion.

4.Can nebuliser be used at home?

Yes a nebuliser can be easily used at home. There are several table top and portable models available that can be opted for. You may also seek your doctor’s advice in this regard. But do ensure to nebulise using medicated solution only upon receiving your doctor’s prescription and stick to the frequency of nebulisation as recommended by your physician.

5.Can my child get addicted to the nebuliser?

When you use a nebuliser all that you are doing is changing the mode of dispensing medicine to your child. As against oral medication, nebulisation is given in the form of medicinal mist. So chances of your child getting addicted to it almost do not arise at all.

6.What are the side effects of using a nebuliser?

 Following are some side effects that you may counter:
  • Nervousness
  • Shaking of a body part
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Muscular/back pain
In any such case or any other abnormality, discontinue use immediately and get in touch with your doctor.

7.Is it safe to use a nebuliser on infants?

 Nebulisation of infants, babies and toddlers is not just safe it is also a common form of treatment that is used to treat Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and all other respiratory conditions. Most medical professionals will recommend the usage of a nebuliser to treat respiratory ailments of little children.

8.Can a nebuliser be used on a sleeping baby?

 Little children and babies may not be comfortable using a nebuliser. The face mask, the mist and the noise that the machine makes can scare little children. Sometimes they may begin to cry and detest the sight of a nebuliser. In such cases you may use a nebuliser to dispense medication when the child is asleep too. As they get older, encourage them to put the mask on and then take the nebulisation, while inhale through the mouth.

9.Is a nebuliser meant to be used only by kids suffering from asthma?

 A nebuliser is a device that converts liquid medication to mist that is easily inhaled by the lungs and provides quick relief too. In the case of small kids who are suffering from asthma, nebulisers are particularly very effective in imparting medication since little children may have problem in using asthmatic inhalers. But nebulisers can be used for treating other respiratory ailments as well such as cold and flu, cystic fibrosis and COPD.

10.Do you need a prescription before using a nebuliser?

 It is vital to understand that a nebuliser should be used only when its usage is recommended by your physician and also ensure that you stick to using only the drugs as prescribed for nebulisation. Depending on each patient’s requirement and physical condition, doctors prescribe the dosage and the frequency of nebulisation. So as a parent you must use a nebuliser for your child only when it is prescribed by your doctor.

11.What is better to use with a nebuliser a mouth piece or a mask?

 Wherever appropriate inhalation of medication through a mouth piece is ideal. However this may not be feasible in the case of infants or small children, in which case you may use a mask to nebulise your child. Medical stores generally have a good range of pediatric nebulisation masks that can be used. It is vital that the mask fits well covering the entire nose and mouth.This ensures appropriate dispention of the medication and also reduces the chances of the medicine getting in to the eye of getting deposited on the face. Also your child must inhale through his mouth during nebulisation.

12.Do I need to disinfect my nebuliser?

 A nebuliser is used to treat respiratory ailments that are generally contagious.This can lead to bacterial contamination since the nebuliser is in contact with sputum and mucous membranes. To prevent any infections it is vital to clean and disinfect the nebuliser handset and all its parts regularly. You must follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions while cleaning and disinfecting the nebuliser. Most nebulisers’ need to be cleaned and disinfected at the end of every treatment day; so you must stick to the frequency of cleaning and methods thereof as instructed by the manufacturer.

13.How often should the masks, filters, hoses etc. be replaced?

 Normally every nebuliser handset comes with a detailed set of manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance of the machine. Your nebuliser will last longer and also produce efficient results when it is maintained as scheduled. All such parts that come into direct contact with the child should be replaced as per the replacement schedule mentioned or even earlier if the nebuliser is being used frequently.

14.How long does a nebuliser last before it needs to be replaced?

The longevity of any nebuliser handset depends upon its frequency of use andmaintenance thereafter. It is vital to regularly clean and disinfect the nebuliser handset to ensure that it functions properly and does not lead to any kind of lung infections. With regular care any nebuliser should function well for a considerable period of time.Nebuliser manufacturers’ generally recommend replacement of the nebuliser handset at every 6 months or less in case of frequent usage so as to maintain optimal performance of the equipment.

15.Can siblings share a nebuliser handset?

 A nebuliser handset is meant to be used by a single patient (one person) only. Therefore it is recommended not to share a nebuliser handset. However, when this seems impractical to do, you must at least ensure that you use separate mouth pieces and face mask for each of your kids. These attachments should not be shared to prevent the spread of bacterial infections.

16.Is a nebuliser good for cough and chest congestion?

A nebuliser is used to provide quick and effective treatment and thorough relief to patients suffering from respiratory ailments. Nebulisers are particularly effective to help patient’s breath easily by getting the medication directly to the lungs which clears the inflammation in the airway. Nebulisation treatments are effective on individuals who experience difficulty in breathing which is caused by respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, reactive airway disease, and cough and chest congestion. Nebulisation also clears dry and stuffy nose by loosening mucous and helps in easy and comfortable breathing and reduces cough and chest congestion.

 Points to be kept in mind while choosing a nebuliser set for home use:

Kindly keep the following points in mind before you buy a nebuliser for home use:
  1. Easy to operate and compact in size with a machine that keeps noise levels to a minimum
  2. Cleaning and maintaining the nebuliser should be simple and not cumbersome
  3. The several parts and accessories of the unit should be readily available for purchase
  4. Both medicated and non-medicated solutions should be constantly delivered to the patience through the mask/mouth piece
  5. Before you decide to buy a nebuliser do a thorough research about the various kinds of nebulisers that are available, their prices and maintenance requirements. You may also ask your physician to recommend one that is most suitable for home use.
So the next time your doctor recommends nebulisation, do not panic. Even when you don’t have a nebuliser at home there’s little to worry, since most clinics are well equipped with nebulisation devices and tools. Whenever you decide to purchase a nebuliser make sure to research and get one that meets your specific needs and budget. Also ensure to follow all manufacturers’ instructions to use and maintain the device. Always use a nebuliser only upon your physician’s advice and stick to the prescription, duration and frequency of nebulisation. Do share your experiences with nebulising your child. Was it easy to get them to sit through it? How were the results on his health? And also do share any other queries that you may have regarding nebulisation.    
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Rupal Mohta

Rupal is a Company Secretary by profession. She’s mum to little angels and is passionate about writing. She’s keen on learning new skills; be it gardening or photography and you may catch her clicking silly selfies with her kids on a free day!


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