Oxygen Therapy: Getting Started with Oxygen

Oxygen therapy may be an important part of your treatment if you have lung disease. But you might not know where to begin. Follow these tips if you are new to oxygen therapy.

How to Get Started

  • To determine which type and how much oxygen is right for you, your doctor will perform certain tests.
  • These tests will measure the amount of oxygen in your blood during rest, exercise and sometimes sleep. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your needs and lifestyle.
  • Explain what you would like to be able to do while using oxygen and any concerns you might have about getting started.
  • Your doctor will provide you with a certificate of medical necessity that says you need supplemental oxygen.
  • Confirm this certificate says exactly the type and amount of oxygen you will need.
  • An oxygen supplier is a company that is responsible for filling your order and delivering your oxygen.
  • Your oxygen supplier is not your doctor and cannot make decisions for you and your oxygen.
  • Once you have your equipment, you generally cannot change the type of equipment or type of delivery system for five years.
  • If you need something changed about your oxygen, you need to discuss it with your doctor and get a new certificate of medical necessity.
  • A representative from your oxygen company (sometimes referred to a Durable Medical Equipment or DME company) will teach you how to use your oxygen when it is delivered.
  • It is important to use the oxygen safely and only as directed.
  • You must use the exact rate of oxygen prescribed for each activity.
  • Don’t increase or decrease the amount without asking your healthcare provider first.
  • Supplemental oxygen is a medicine. It’s not addictive and causes no major side effects when used as directed.
  • Use a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen levels at home.

You are not alone.

Many people with lung disease use oxygen. There are several ways you can connect with other people and lung disease experts to help you get started with oxygen:

  • Call our free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit Lung.org/helpline to talk with a medical professional.
  • Get started with a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Trained respiratory therapists can help answer your questions about oxygen and teach you how to stay active. 
  • Discover new ways to cope with lung disease and get support from others who share in your struggles:
    • Better Breathers Club. In-person or virtual meetings led by trained facilitators that offer educational and supportive connections.
    • Patient & Caregiver Network. Nationwide, online patient support program providing direct access to education, support and connection to others also living with lung disease.
  • Connect with other patients facing lung disease in one of our free online support communities.

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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