Neb Compressor 101

If you or your child have been prescribed a nebulizer compressor, you may have some questions like; how to use it, and what is the difference between a nebulizer and an inhaler. Hopefully this will answer all questions you may have and help make you a nebulizer pro.

So what is a nebulizer compressor? A nebulizer compressor is a small device that pushes pressurized air through the system and into the medication reservoir, turning the liquid medication into a mist. An inhaler also creates a mist, however; with an inhaler you need to be able to properly take a deep breath, and during any sort of respiratory distress that becomes difficult.

Let’s take a look at our nebulizer compressor. We are currently using the Respironics Innospire Neb.

  • It’s small and lightweight, making it easy to move around the house.
  • Make sure the vents on the side can breathe while the machine is running.
  • Show filter, replace when it turns a color. A dirty filter can place unneeded strain on your compressor and slow down treatments.
  • Show power button. 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off.
  • Make sure you have a strong, stable, and sturdy table or counter top to place the compressor on while it’s running. The machine can overheat on a cushion or mattress.
  • The machine must be plugged in and have power to operate, there is no battery backup system.

Now let’s take a look at our nebulizer circuit. If your child will be using a mask or mouth piece they will be provided a Pari re-usable circuit.

  • We have tubing that connects from the bottom of the circuit, to the top of the compressor. This tube pushes the air into the medication reservoir to produce the mist. If this tube becomes clogged or blocked, little to no mist will be produced.
  • Next we have the medication reservoir or cup. This is where the medication will be placed.
    • To open, place your thumb or finger on the ring and push. Once released, you can pull it out. Be careful not to touch the inside of the medication reservoir, it needs to stay as clean as possible so no germs from your hands cause infection.
  • The cone on the inside has a small hole where the air comes into the reservoir. You don’t want the medication to get into the hole and clog the tubing, so simply tilt your reservoir and pour your medication down the side.
    • Replace the top by placing it back inside the reservoir and twisting it to the locked position.
  • The last part of putting together your circuit depends on the delivery method. You can deliver the therapy with a mouthpiece, a mask, or blow-by.

Now that you know how everything works and connects, let’s get ready to give a treatment.

  • Check that compressor is on an appropriate surface and can safely reach a plug.
  • Make sure all pieces are clean and ready for use.
  • Wash your hands before handling the medication and circuit.
  • Dispense medication.
  • Turn on machine and verify the presence of a mist.
  • Deliver nebulizer therapy.
  • The nebulization varies, but is usually around 15-20 minutes per medication.
  • Keep the medication reservoir upright during the treatment. Ideally, the patient should sit upright during the treatment, but this is not always achievable.

So now that you know how deliver a nebulizer treatment, how do you keep everything clean and performing at its best?

  • Keep the exhaust vents on the sides clean and clear of dust.
  • Check filter regularly and change when indicated.
  • Clean and change your circuits as indicated.

Cleaning the reusable circuit.

  • Some people will have disposable circuits that are used for a week or so and then thrown away. Those circuits do not need to be cleaned.
  • If you are given a reusable circuit, it will need to be cleaned.
    • The tubing cannot be cleaned, it will need to be replaced after 6 months.
    • Daily cleaning – take off the mouthpiece/mask and remove the medicine reservoir from the tubing. Wash with hot water and mild soap. Shake off extra water. Let air dry.
    • Disinfecting – Remove the same pieces and place them in a soak of 1 part vinegar, 3 parts water. Let them soak for an hour and air dry.

That is everything you need to know to successfully administer a nebulizer treatment.

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