Is Nebulization for Babies and Kids Really Safe?

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‘Nebulization for babies’ – Did this phrase scare you?

Are there any side effects of nebulization in infants?

Is nebulization for kids a safe practice?

And last but not the least – What is a nebulizer?

When it comes to nebulization, especially for kids, there are so many questions!

nebulization for babies

The place where I stay, a sudden drop in temperature triggers illnesses. To add to that my little one has started play school. He has been trading germs, apart from the toys, with his friends.

At times I wish for some sort of miracle shield to protect my kid from these nasty micro monsters rather than battling each and every time.

He contracted the flu quite a few times and each time he had ended up with a bad nasal congestion which made it really difficult for him to breath at night.

Nebulization was what helped during such bad nights as it provides a temporary but great relief.

So through this article, I hope to debunk some common myths and misunderstandings about nebulization so that it can help you, if the need arises.

Also read:

15 FAQS about nebulization for babies you need to know:

Recently a dear friend of mine had concerns over nebulization for her daughter. The little girl had chest congestion for which the doctor had suggested nebulization. Like any other mom, my friend was worried whether nebulization had any side effects.

I felt I could write about nebulizer, myths associated with nebulization and all the frequently asked questions about nebulizing a baby with answers.

nebulisation-for-babies-faqs

#1. What is nebulization or nebulised therapy?

Nebulization is also termed as breathing treatment. It is a process of delivering a medicine or a combination of medicines using a nebulizer for immediate relief.

#2. What is a nebuliser or nebulizer?

A nebulizer is a machine which holds a small quantity of any specific medicated solution or normal saline. This solution is then converted into an aerosol, which is a mixture of gas and liquid particles.

The aerosol is inhaled through one’s nose/mouth with or without the help of face mask.

#3. How does a nebulizer work?

You might be wondering what does a nebulizer do.

Nebulizers disperse the solutions into tiny cloud of airborne water droplets either by using oxygen, ultrasonic power or compressed air. This is then inhaled by the person providing them immediate relief.

#4. What are the types of medicines used for nebulization?

You can use nebulizers in two ways:

  • With a non-medicated liquid

Non-medicated liquid is normal saline which is commonly used to help a dry nose by moistening the mucous membrane.

  • With a medicated liquid

Medicated liquids are used for patients with respiratory diseases like allergic rhinitis, asthma, COPD and in few cystic fibrosis cases.

For asthma patients, bronchodilators, or combo of bronchodilators and corticosteroids are used.

#5. How can nebulization help my child suffering from blocked nose and bad cold?

Nebulization helps to moisten the dry mucous membrane.

Apart from that, it clears your little one’s dry and stuffy nose by loosening the mucous trapped in the airways. This dilates their respiratory passage and makes it easier for them to breath.

#6. Heard that nebulization is only for adults and not for babies and children. Is it true?

It’s a misconception. Nebulization is very effective and good for small children.

It is difficult for small children to spit out the sputum like older children or adults. So nebulization for babies is very effective in providing relief from breathing difficulty due to stuffy nose.

You can also refer to the home remedies for stuffy nose in babies and kids.

#7. Is nebulization to be done only by those suffering from asthma?

I have seen many of my friends who are scared of nebulization treatment for their kids thinking it is only for asthmatic patients. This is yet another misconception.

For many conditions like asthma, COPD, bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis and for a few other respiratory diseases, nebulization is offered.

#8. Are nebulizer and inhaler the same thing?

No, both are different.

An asthma inhaler is used to breathe in the asthma medicine either in the form of mist or fine dry powder through mouth. It’s a small device one can easily hold in hand and requires no electric supply to operate.

For kids who find it difficult to use an asthma inhaler, a nebulizer seems very effective to deliver asthma medications.

#9. Can we use nebulizers at home?

Yes, you can safely use a nebulizer at home. But, DO NOT use any medicated solutions other than normal saline in nebulizer without consulting your doctor.

Nebulizers for home come in table top and portable models. They require electric supply to operate.

The nebulizer price depends on the make and model.

Philips REF-1093268 Sami the Seal NebulizerOmron NE-C28 Compressor NebulizerNulife Handyneb Pistontype Compressor NebulizerOmron NE-C803 Compressor Nebulizer and Omron HIGH VOLUME Nebulizer Compressor (NE-C25S) Nebulizer NEW VERSION C25 are the branded nebulizers available in the market.

#10. Can I use nebulizer at home for various respiratory illnesses other than nasal congestion?

A big no!!!

Consult your kid’s doctor before using a nebulizer machine at home if you are using it for anything other than congestion related to normal cold. They will consider a number of factors before deciding whether or not to give you a nebulizer and will train you how to use the machine, how to look after it etc.

#11. Does my child need to take deep breaths during nebulization?

No, your child can breathe normally. The mouth piece should be pointed towards their nostrils.

#12. Is it true that nebuliser medicine uses high dosage of medicines?

The dosage of medicine used in nebulizers is very less as compared to medicines given orally. So that puts the worry to an end.

#13. Does nebulization cause any side effects to my child?

Side effects are far less or nil when compared to oral medicines such as syrups and tablets.

#14. Does nebulization cause addiction?

The difference between nebulization and other treatments is the mode of delivering medicines.

The mode of delivering medicines doesn’t cause addiction. And that is why there is a 100 % assurance that your kid won’t be addicted to it.

Normally, we give medicines to kids orally. Does that make them addicted to those medicines? So there’s your answer.

#15. How to choose a home nebulizer?

If you want to buy a nebulizer, here are the things to be taken into consideration.

  • It should be reasonably priced.
  • Should be easy to operate and should be compact.
  • Should deliver the medicated or non-medicated solutions in the form of aerosol through the mouth piece constantly.
  • The cleaning procedures of nebulizer accessories like nebulizer cups, mouthpieces etc after use should be simple
  • It shouldn’t be too noisy as kids usually do get scared of loud noises and will hesitate to undergo nebulization.
  • Do a thorough research before buying a good branded nebulizer and check with the vendor about the shelf life of nebulizer accessories without fail. There are reusable and disposable type accessories.
  • Get the complete information about the sterilisation, cleaning and storage process and strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Summary

First of all, mommies don’t panic if your kid’s doctor suggests nebulization treatment to clear up your kid’s stuffy nose next time.

Secondly, it is not at all compulsory to have a nebulizer at home.

Thirdly, if you own one, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions properly.

And lastly, don’t use any medicated solutions other than normal saline in nebulizers without your doctor’s prescription or consultation.

Hope this has cured you of your fear of nebulisers and nebulization for babies.

Have you done nebulization for your kid? If you have, were you worried too about the side effects?

Does your kid gets cranky during the nebulization process or is he fine with it? Do share with me in comments.

Mommies, if you have any other questions, feel free to comment below.

About Author

A darling wife of Vijay Varadarajan and a lovely mom to Rithvik. A Biotechnology post graduate, Jayalekshmy quit her job the very next day she became pregnant. Realized her passion for cooking after Rithvik came into their life and now loves to experiment different cuisines. Her other interests are home interior decoration, gardening, internet surfing,a bit photography and whatsaap chatting with her loved ones.

40 Comments

  1. hello madam,
    my child is 3 months old. she is facing problem in breathing. she is getting cold and cough continuously. and even wheezing at some times. previously she has inhaled a drop of liquid into lungs while bathing and got admitted in hospital and they gave nebulization thrice a day. and now she is getting cold and wheezing frequently . Iam not getting what to do. please suggest me.

    • Jayalekshmy V on

      Hello Satya ,

      First of all don’t panic at all .Our medical field is so advanced and wheezing is not a big problem .Follow your paediatricians advice on medications as your baby is too small .ask your doctor about the foods to avoid once your baby reach six months .now your baby will be in BM or formula right .cold and cough is common in infants .as time passes by his immune system will develop and your baby will be super fine

      Happy parenting !

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  2. My lo 15 months old is having dry cough only during night. He loves to eat water melon a lot. Could that be the reason for it?

    • Hi Mitalli,

      I don’t think that will be the reason. Its now scientifically proved that any fruits like banana, grapes or watermelon in moderation is fine and it doesn’t stimulate cough or cold in babies. What you can do is , try to include all types of local fruits available, give him watermelon (avoid keeping in refrigerator) in moderation and also make sure your baby have his fruits first half of the day.

      regards
      jayalekshmy

  3. My child is 18 months old… Doctor suggested for nebulizer but by mistake my child swallowed the medicine given for it (levolin 0.31mg) respules..Can it hard in any way..

    • Hi Priyanka,

      Nothing to worry. Now onwards be sure on keeping all the medicines safely out of your baby’s reach.

      regards
      jayalekshmy

  4. Hi,

    My baby is 2y3m old… He gets very frequent wheezing and also we are using inhalers for him in addition to nebulizers…. Could you please suggest me any foods to avoid wheezing…

    Thank you…

    • Hi Niharika,

      Foods to avoid – orange juice, grapes, water melon , junk foods,cold food like curd, ice creams. Keep your child away from strong smells from perfume, talcum powder,bathroom cleaners , room fresheners, exposure to pets and dusts.

      But always talk with your doctor to rule out any food allergies.

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  5. Mam my son is 4 years old ..yearly 5 to 6 times he will get cold and sevear cough …that time we will consult to the pediatrician …but when he give antibiotic s only my son will get cured …sometimes he will admitted for same reason …m really worried about my son …what problem he is having….so I asked with doctor …can I use nebulizer at home …so doctor suggested to use….but please tell me which type of nebulizer i want to use him …and when I want to use it …and what medicine I want to use it …is normal saline is inff

    • Hi Praphulla,

      If your paediatrician suggested to use nebulisation go on. Sorry, the medication part I cant tell you. You can talk with your doctor for the same, if your son suffer from severe cough or nose block. Normal saline works well for releasing the nasal block.

      Nebulizer is available in almost all pharmacies. The pharmacists will guide you on how to use and maintain it. You can nebulise your kid daily three times on those days, mainly before his sleep time.

      The nebulizer price depends on the make and model. Here are some of the brands

      Philips REF-1093268 Sami the Seal Nebulizer, Omron NE-C28 Compressor Nebulizer, Nulife Handyneb Pistontype Compressor Nebulizer, Omron NE-C803 Compressor Nebulizer and Omron HIGH VOLUME Nebulizer Compressor (NE-C25S) Nebulizer NEW VERSION C25

      regards
      Jayalekshmy

  6. Hi Jayalekshmy,

    Thanks a lot for your article. My 6 months old son has similar cold problems. The doctor suggested the use of nebulizer, saying it will cure the infection inside.

    Had a few queries on it.
    1. After getting used to the nebulizer, will my baby have a problem adjusting to breathing the normal air as it will be less cleaner than the air taken through the nebulizer

    2. Do I need it to do daily / alternate days / once in a week and how many hours a week ???

    Thank You !!!

    • Hi Mahidhar,

      I guess your kid is getting the occasional common cold symptoms same as with other kids.So don’t make nebulisation a ritual or habit .Use only when you feel you baby is having difficult in breathing during cold.It is fine with two times a day for 5-7 minutes. Dont get worried that after nebulisation,your baby will find it difficult to breath the normal outside air.Do you ever find it difficult in breathing following any steam inhalation?so same with your baby .Consult your doctor and follow his instructions .

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  7. Indeed an informative article. Cleared out all my concerns regarding nebulization for babies as my niece seldom suffers from bad congestion. Will definitely recommend this post to my sister.

    • Hi daud,

      You haven’t mentioned for what reason you are using nebulisation.does your baby has any wheezing issue?are you using any medicated solution ?if your paediatrician suggested you to use for a month go ahead .

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

    • Hi Richa,

      I am happy this article take away your concerns regarding nebulisation and thank you for the feedback.

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  8. My counsin is inhaling it from past 20 years since his childhood.
    I feel like he got addicted to it…
    If he doesnt intake it within certain hours he becomes a different person.. Throw things.. Sometimes starts crying and try to hurt himself or else he throws tantrums at home… In his childhood he was a cute obedient lovely kid i ve known.
    I do feel like he is paying the price for intaking those medicines for all this time.

    • Hi Seema,

      Hope now your cousin will be around 22-25 year old .There is no clinically proven link between nebulisation and the aggressive behaviour your cousin throwing out.I have not wiritten here about any medication , only given a clear knowledge about nebulisation and how it works with non medicated solutions.

      I don’t know what medication your cousin is using .now he is not a child ,a teenager so do check and confirm yourself the medications he is using for nebulisation and for what purpose he is using nebulisation (is he asthma patient?) .consult a good neurologist or any good doctor and seek medical attention for his addiction and aggressive behaviour .

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  9. Hello Mam,

    My kid is 2 months old and facing problems while breathing.
    Doctor prescribed for nebulizer. Please suggest if it is good for 2 months baby.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Tejaswi,

      If your paediatrician suggested nebulisation do follow it , nothing to worry .Hope he has prescribed nebulisation with non medicated solutions .

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  10. Hi Madam,

    I am planning to buy a nebuliser for my 1 year old daughter. but now confused with specifications which I found for it.

    1. open air flow rate : 7lpm, 8lpm, 9.3lpm, 16lpm

    2. Mmad(micro m) : 5, 4-5, 2.9, 5

    3. average nebulisation rate(ml/min) : 0.25, 0.5

    4. particle size ( micro m) : 0.5, 0.6-0.7, 5

    5. medical capacity(ml) : 0.2, 2-3, 8

    Please suggest which capacities are good for my kind.

    Thanks
    Vamshi

    • Hi Vamshi,

      Sorry for the delay .You can go for 9.3 lpm, 4-5 micro m, 0.5 ml/min, any particle size or any medical capacity

      Regards

      Jayalekshmy

  11. Hii mam,,thanx a lot for your information,, my kid is 3 yrs old,,he gets sudden high cough with stuffy nose once in 10 days. He was hosputalized 2 times in cmc.I consulted many pediatricians but non of them said the correct reason.,, some said chest congestion,asthm,allergy…..can I give levolin in his nebulization to treat this. Iam really worried about my son

    • Hi Fouziya,

      First of all don’t worry. Its normal to get stuffy nose and cough in this age frequently.He will be absolutely fine as he grows. Don’t change doctors. Stick to one paediatrician. Use saline nasal sprays.Avoid giving milk, milk products, banana when he is having stuffy nose and cough. Give him lots of carrot soups . If you are a non veg, you can give him chicken soup as well during that time.

      The medicine part , I am not much aware. If your paediatrician asked to use levolin for nebulisation just use it without any fear.

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  12. Ur post was helpful, am also the one who thinks nebulizer has side effects or not :)…..but one more thing can u tell me is it effective for cough and chest infections also?
    Thanx

    • Hi Fariha,

      Nebulisation is effective for chest congestion as it dilates the respiratory passage and helps in easy breathing. But for chest infection or anything other than congestion related to normal cold, its not advisable, consult you pediatrician for the same.

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  13. Chandni Mehrotra on

    My 11 months old is having severe nose blockage n running nose too ..from last 15 days… doctor prescribed me to nebulize him but he gets too cranky while nebulizing…I tried doing while he was sleeping..but all in vain…I got soundless nebulizer also for him..but don’t know how he gets to know..n start turning his head from right to left…it’s so tough for me to nebulize him… kindly suggest something plzZzz…ur article was really very helpful…it sorted many of my doubts…but plz help me n suggest me something…thank you

    • Hi chandini

      Even my son was initially scared of Nebulisation .What we did was , his father also sits with him by wearing the mask and pretend Just try this trick .as time passes your little one will be fine with Nebulisation .

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  14. Rajat Chaudhary on

    Hi mam, truly thanks to you providing vital info abt nebulizer and the process.
    I have a daughter of 3+3/4 yrs old and she got wheezing problem quite frequently now a days and that worries me as doctor asked to continue nebulization for almost 6 months. To let her cure permanently. Is that really true? Can the regular use of nebulization cure asthma permanently?
    I am more in favor of Ayurveda now rather alopathy.
    What’s ur suggestion here?

    • Hi Rajat,
      It’s true and depends on the medication your doctor prescribed to use for nebulise your child.i personally suggest you to go with your doctor’s advice rather than switching to Ayurveda. I am not against Ayurveda but there is no proven clinical efficacy or what are the side-effects caused for Ayurvedic treatments.

      Regards
      Jayalekshmy

  15. Iswarya subramanian on

    Thanks for the use full post my twin boys suffered from congestion nebulization only helpful tat tym .had a doubt tat it ll be harmful or addictive my children

  16. When using a nebulizer to deliver your child’s medicine for asthma or another respiratory condition, you want to be sure the treatments are effective. Sometimes, children are not willing to sit through the process they get bored, impatient, or are frightened by the machine.

  17. Very informative post thanks a lot Mam for ur info , I’m a mother cute little pie sowgandh who is 20 mnths old. Every 2 or 3 mnths he is getting heavy cough and later chest congestion all will happen within hrs , he is addmited in hospital 2 times also .Dr is saying whether it is asthma or not we can’t trigger properly .nebulizers is to be used every 4 hrs , my querry is how to avoid this severe attack , don’t understand what to do any home remedies or any foods we have to avoid etc , pls reply .

    • Hi rajni
      Happy to know this article provides you good info. Sowgandh started daycare or any playschool??

      Most of the kids will get cold , cough and chest congestion at least three or four times a year. its quite common.when they start schooling the frequency of illness rise like a rocket!!! . this is the way they bulid up a strong immunity. so no worries at all.

      Consult a good paediatrician and find the actual cause and treat it.Asthma can be caused either by hereditary or by other environmental factors. if you have any food allergy concerns, follow the four day wait rule and introduce new foods one at a time.

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