Using oxygen at home
Because of your sickness, you may need to use oxygen to help you breathe. You will need to know how to use and store your oxygen.
Oxygen - home use; COPD - home oxygen; Chronic obstructive airways disease - home oxygen; Chronic obstructive lung disease - home oxygen; Chronic bronchitis - home oxygen; Emphysema - home oxygen; Chronic respiratory failure - home oxygen; Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - home oxygen; Interstitial lung disease - home oxygen; Hypoxia - home oxygen; Hospice - home oxygen
Kinds of Oxygen
Your oxygen will be stored under pressure in tanks or produced by a machine called an oxygen concentrator.
You can get large tanks to keep in your home and small tanks to take with you when you go out.
Liquid oxygen is the best kind to use because:
Be aware that liquid oxygen will slowly run out, even when you are not using it.
An oxygen concentrator:
Portable, battery-operated concentrators are also available.
Ways to Breathe the Oxygen
You will need other equipment to use your oxygen. One item is called a nasal cannula. This plastic tubing wraps over your ears, like eyeglasses, with 2 prongs that fit into your nostrils.
You may need an oxygen mask. The mask fits over the nose and mouth. It is best for when you need higher amounts of oxygen or when your nose gets too irritated from the nasal cannula.
Some people may need a transtracheal catheter. This is a small catheter or tube placed into your windpipe during a minor surgery. Ask your health care provider about how to clean the catheter and humidifier bottle.
Tell Others you use Oxygen at Home
Tell your local fire department, electric company, and telephone company that you use oxygen in your home.
Tell your family, neighbors, and friends that you use oxygen. They can help during an emergency.
Using oxygen may make your lips, mouth, or nose dry. Keep them moist with aloe vera or a water-based lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly. DO NOT use oil-based products, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline).
Ask your oxygen equipment provider about foam cushions to protect your ears from the tubing.
DO NOT stop or change your flow of oxygen. Talk with your provider if you think you are not getting the right amount.
Take good care of your teeth and gums.
Keep your oxygen far away from open fire (like a gas stove) or any other heating source.
Travel and Oxygen
Make sure oxygen will be available for you during your trip. If you plan to fly with oxygen, tell the airline before your trip that you plan to bring oxygen. Many airlines have special rules about traveling with oxygen.
When to Call the Doctor
If you have any of the following symptoms, check your oxygen equipment first.
If your oxygen equipment is working well, call your provider if:
Call your child's provider if your child is on oxygen and has any of the following:
American Thoracic Society website. Oxygen therapy. www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf. Updated April 2016. Accessed February 28, 2018.
COPD Foundation website. Oxygen therapy. www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Living-with-COPD/Oxygen-Therapy.aspx. Updated June 2015. Accessed February 28, 2018.
Review Date: 2/18/2018
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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