If you need oxygen at home, it is
important to learn how to use and take care of your equipment. This information
will help you get the most from your oxygen treatment.
Oxygen therapy is a way to
get more oxygen into your lungs and bloodstream. It is sometimes used for
people with diseases that make it hard to breathe, such as
cystic fibrosis, or
heart failure. Oxygen therapy can make it easier to
breathe. And it can reduce the heart’s workload.
Some people need
extra oxygen all the time. Others need it from time to time throughout the day
or overnight. A doctor will prescribe how much oxygen you need, based on blood
tests. He or she will tell you how much oxygen to use per minute (the flow
rate) and how often to use it.
To breathe the oxygen, most people
use a nasal cannula (say "KAN-yuh-luh"). This is a thin tube with two prongs
that fit just inside your nose. Children and people who need a lot of oxygen
may need to use a mask that fits over the nose and mouth.
Your oxygen supply
Oxygen can be delivered to
your home in tanks, or cylinders, or it can be produced in your home by a
machine called an oxygen concentrator.
Your doctor will help you choose the source that fits your
needs. A combination may be best. Some people use a concentrator at home, keep
a large oxygen tank on hand as a backup, and have small tanks or a portable concentrator for use outside
Why do you need a backup oxygen supply when you use a full-size
A full-size oxygen concentrator must be plugged into an electrical outlet, so
you need backup oxygen if the power fails.
Oxygen concentrators are reliable. You need
backup oxygen because a full-size oxygen concentrator must be plugged into an electrical outlet, so it won't
work if the power goes out.
Continue to Why?
Some people with lung or
heart disease have low levels of oxygen in their blood. This can make them feel
tired and short of breath. Oxygen therapy will give you extra oxygen and may
help you feel better, do more, and even sleep better. If you have low blood oxygen levels, oxygen therapy may also help you live
Oxygen therapy can increase oxygen levels in the
Some people with lung or heart disease have low
levels of oxygen in their blood. Getting extra oxygen can increase oxygen
levels and make you feel better.
Oxygen therapy can increase oxygen levels in
people who have low levels of oxygen in their blood.
Continue to How?
After your doctor
prescribes oxygen and you decide on which source you will use, there are a few
things to know about using oxygen at home.
If you use a nasal cannula:
Oxygen is a
fire hazard. It will make a flame burn hotter and faster. It is very important
to follow the steps below to keep you and your family safe.
advance to make sure your trip goes well.
Airline companies have special rules for people who
Airline companies usually require a doctor’s
okay for travel and a copy of the oxygen prescription. Some airlines may supply
oxygen for a price or may allow you to bring a portable oxygen concentrator on
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to start using oxygen at home.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about
this information, take it with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to
mark areas or make notes in the margins where you have questions.
If you would like more information on oxygen therapy, the
following resource is available:
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
publishes an excellent series of pamphlets on allergies, asthma, and related
information. It also provides physician referrals.
The American Lung Association provides programs of
education, community service, and advocacy. Some of the topics available
include asthma, tobacco control, emphysema, infectious disease, asbestos, carbon monoxide, radon,
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
provides information and support for people who have allergies or asthma. The
AAFA has local chapters and support groups. And its Web site has online
resources, such as fact sheets, brochures, and newsletters, both free and for
The COPD Foundation develops and supports programs that
improve research, education, early diagnosis, and treatment of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They provide information to people with
COPD, caregivers, and health professionals.
Return to topic:
November 29, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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