Oxygen Therapy: Things to Know When Using Oxygen Therapy

Being prescribed oxygen can be overwhelming, many people with lung disease feel better when they use oxygen therapy. This video will help you get started with oxygen therapy and adjust to life on oxygen. Always consult your doctor if you have questions about your oxygen therapy prescription and using your oxygen device.

Produced with support from Three Lakes Partners.

It can be overwhelming to be told you need oxygen but you are not alone.

Many people living with a lung disease find that oxygen helps them stay active, sleep better and have more energy to do the things they like.
There are many different types of oxygen devices you can use at home and on the go.

The types of oxygen prescribed to you by your doctor are based on:

  • how much supplemental or "extra" oxygen your body needs,
  • when you need the extra oxygen. For example, if you need it only during sleep or when you are active or if you need it all the time,
  • your lifestyle and
  • your insurance coverage.

Each type of oxygen delivery device has a setting or an "oxygen flow rate." This is the amount of liters of oxygen flowing per minute. This rate should be set by your healthcare provider and you should not change it without first consulting with them. Remember that oxygen is a drug.

When the oxygen delivery company comes to drop off our oxygen equipment, be sure to ask as many questions as you can. Call your doctor’s office if you continue to have questions.

Supplemental oxygen is generally very safe. However, there are a few major safety tips to keep in mind.

The biggest safety measure is to keep your oxygen away from an open flame or a heat source. Oxygen won't cause a fire on its own, but it supports combustion. That means, if it comes in contact with a flame, it could start a very large fire.

Keep anything flammable, such as aerosols or petroleum, away from the unit. Don't use anything that could spark, like electric razors, and especially don’t smoke or let others smoke near you while operating your oxygen device.

And always keep your oxygen unit upright. Metal tanks should always be kept in a carrier. Single tanks not in carriers or in use should be kept lying flat so they do not fall over.

Your doctor might recommend carrying a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen saturation. This will help you make sure the amount of oxygen in your body doesn't drop to a dangerously low level.

You may feel a little self-conscious using oxygen at first, but you will become more comfortable over time. You will quickly see using oxygen will help you feel your best. Soon, it will become a part of your everyday life.

For more information about oxygen therapy, visit Lung.org/oxygen.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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