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.
If you have low blood oxygen levels, breathing
extra oxygen can help you feel better and lead to a longer, more active
You can travel even though you use oxygen, but you'll need
to plan ahead.
Oxygen is a fire hazard. Follow safety measures to
keep you and your family safe.
How to use oxygen therapy
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.
Do not change the
setting on your oxygen without talking to your doctor first. Turning the flow
rate up or down could put you in danger.
Keep track of how much oxygen is in the tank, and order more in advance so
you don't run out.
Do not drink alcohol or take drugs that relax you, such as sleeping pills or sedatives, while using
oxygen. They can cause you to breathe too slowly.
Call your doctor if you feel:
Short of breath.
Like you are not getting enough
If you use a nasal cannula
Wash the nasal prongs
with soap and water 1 or 2 times a week. Follow the maker's instructions on
caring for your equipment.
Replace the prongs every 2 to 4 weeks. If you have a cold or the flu, change them
when your symptoms pass.
Use a water-based moisturizer (such as Neutrogena Moisture) on your lips and in your nose
to prevent drying and cracking. Read labels, and look for a product that lists
water as the first ingredient. Petroleum-based products (such as Vaseline
Petroleum Jelly) can plug the air holes.
Put a piece of
gauze under the tubing to keep the skin behind your ears
from getting sore.
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.
Never smoke or let anyone else smoke while you are using oxygen. Put up "no smoking"signs, and be
aware of people smoking near you when you are outside your home.
Keep oxygen at least
6 ft (2 m)away from flames or heat sources such as gas stoves, barbecue grills,
space heaters, candles, and fireplaces.
Do not use flammable products, such as cleaning fluid,
paint thinner, or aerosol sprays, while you are using oxygen.
Keep a fire extinguisher at home
within easy reach. If you have an emergency, be sure to tell your fire department that you have oxygen in the
Keep oxygen tanks upright. Make sure
they do not fall over and get damaged.
advance to make sure your trip goes well.
Talk to your doctor
about whether it is safe for you to travel. Ask your doctor what you need to do
to stay safe while traveling. Get at least one copy of your oxygen
prescription, and take it with you on the trip.
Before the trip,
tell the travel company (airline, cruise ship, train, or
bus) that you use oxygen. It's important to talk to your travel company well in
advance, because they may have requirements that can take some time to take
Traveling with oxygen can be done if you plan
Learn how to use a portable oxygen tank. Know how long it will last. Bring refills if
Get a portable oxygen concentrator
and learn how to use it. Some types of oxygen concentrators can be taken on
airplanes, cruise ships, buses, and trains.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerHasmeena Kathuria, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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