Some injuries or illness make it hard for oxygen to pass from your lungs to the blood. This means your body tissue does not get the oxygen it needs to work well. This will make you tire easily and cause shortness of breath. Low oxygen can also be harmful to busy organs like the brain.
Oxygen therapy increase the amount of oxygen in your lungs. This will increase the amount that makes it into your blood. Some common reasons that people need home oxygen therapy include:
It may only be needed for a short time while you heal. Others may need permanent oxygen support.
Home oxygen therapy is safe. There is an increased risk of fire around oxygen, but basic steps will help avoid this:
Keep the oxygen supply away from open flames.
Do not smoke. Do not allow anyone to smoke around you.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
A prescription for oxygen will be needed. The prescription will include:
How much oxygen is needed
How the oxygen will be given
When to use it
Description of the Procedure
Home oxygen therapy is most often given with a nasal cannula. A cannula is a tube that is put just under your nose. Two prongs will deliver oxygen up into your nose. A face mask may be needed to improve oxygen delivery. The mask covers your mouth and nose.
Home oxygen may be delivered through 1 of 3 systems:
Concentrators—electrical device that collects oxygen from the air
Compressed gas systems—stored in steel or aluminum tanks (smaller tanks can be carried)
Liquid systems—stored in a large tank in the house (smaller tanks can be used out of the house)
How Long Will It Take?
Oxygen therapy will be based on your needs. It may only be needed during activity or 24 hours a day.
Will It Hurt?
Home oxygen therapy is painless.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
Cough, trouble breathing, or chest pain
Gray/blue tint around eyes, lips, and gums
Loss of appetite
You are having trouble delivering the oxygen
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Oxygen therapy. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf. Accessed December 10, 2018.
Supplemental oxygen. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/diagnosing-and-treating/supplemental-oxygen.html. Accessed December 10, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 12/10/2018
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