To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Oxygen Therapy: Using Oxygen at Home


Table of Contents


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.   Oxygen Therapy: Using Oxygen at Home

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.

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  What is oxygen therapy?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Why use oxygen therapy?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  How to use oxygen therapy
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Where to go from here

What? - What is the medical information or key concepts related to the action?  What is oxygen therapy?

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 COPD, 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 the home.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Why do you need a backup oxygen supply when you use a full-size oxygen concentrator?

    1. You need a backup oxygen supply because the concentrator won't work if the electricity goes out.

      This answer is correct.

      A full-size oxygen concentrator must be plugged into an electrical outlet, so you need backup oxygen if the power fails.

    2. You need backup oxygen because oxygen concentrators are not reliable.

      This answer is incorrect.

      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.


Why? - Why the action is important?  Why use oxygen therapy?

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 longer.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Oxygen therapy can increase oxygen levels in the blood.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      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.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Oxygen therapy can increase oxygen levels in people who have low levels of oxygen in their blood.


How? - Learn the steps involved in taking action.  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.

Basic instructions

If you use a nasal cannula

Safety tips

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.

Travel tips

Plan in advance to make sure your trip goes well.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Airline companies have special rules for people who use oxygen.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      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 board.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      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 board.


Where? - Other resources and organizations that can help you take action.  Where to go from here

Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start using oxygen at home.

If you have questions, take this information with you when you visit your doctor.

If you would like more information on oxygen therapy, the following resources are available:

Organizations

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
555 East Wells Street
Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI  53202-3823
Phone: (414) 272-6071
Email: info@aaaai.org
Web Address: www.aaaai.org
 

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.


American Lung Association
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 800
Washington, DC  20004
Phone: 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) to speak with a lung professional
(202) 785-3355
Email: info@lung.org
Web Address: www.lungusa.org
 

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, and ozone.


Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
1233 20th Street NW
Suite 402
Washington, DC  20036
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1-800-727-8462)
Email: info@aafa.org
Web Address: www.aafa.org
 

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 purchase.


COPD Foundation
2937 SW 27th Avenue
Suite 302
Miami, FL  33133
Phone: 1-866-316-COPD (1-866-316-2673)
Web Address: www.copdfoundation.org
 

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.


Credits for Oxygen Therapy: Using Oxygen at Home

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
Last Revised February 19, 2013

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.