If you’re considering or now receiving oxygen therapy for chronic lung disease, the website YourLungHealth.org gives valuable information on home delivery systems and their proper use.
Home oxygen therapy is effective for various lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, IPF, cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure (CHF) and lung cancer.
Currently, there are three methods of home oxygen delivery—a liquid oxygen system, a portable oxygen concentrator and a standard oxygen concentrator. The most common way to administer home oxygen therapy is with a nasal cannula (a two-pronged flexible piece of vinyl inserted into the nostrils). Transtracheal (across the trachea/windpipe) administration is another manner of rendering home oxygen therapy. Much lower oxygen flow rates are needed with transtracheal administration of oxygen compared with oxygen via nasal cannula.
The following safety measures are recommended when using oxygen therapy:
- No smoking is important while using oxygen. Post “no smoking” signs where oxygen is use.
- Stay at least five feet away from objects with open flames such as gas stoves, lighted fire-places and candles.
- Avoid flammable products such paint thinner, aerosol sprays and rubbing alcohol.
- Keep a portable fire extinguisher available and alert the local fire department that oxygen is being used in the home.
- Notify the electric company that oxygen is being used to receive priority service in a power outage.
- Secure the oxygen tank in a carrier or to something solid to prevent falling and pressurized gas abruptly escaping—the cylinder could become a missile.
“Do’s and Don’ts” of home oxygen therapy include:
- Don’t use central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or any other sedating drugs (whether prescription or over-the-counter), as they inhibit the will to breathe.
- Don’t ever change the oxygen flow rate prescribed by your physician (unless directed).
- Do order your oxygen in a timely manner from the supplier.
- Do use water-based lubricants on lips or nostrils (not oil-based such as petroleum jelly).
- Do tuck gauze beneath the tubing to decrease chances of skin redness and irritation.
It’s important to note that a physician must write a prescription for oxygen, specifying a flow rate usually expressed in liters per minute (L/min).
Every patient does not require oxygen 24/7, some only using it with exercise or while sleeping.
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