An ear wearing foam on top of cannula tubing, a nose with a nasal cannula, a finger with a blood oxygen monitor and an oxygen canister

Some Ins and Outs of Using Supplemental Oxygen

A person with a normal breathing function will have a blood oxygen content of 98 to 100, depending on their fitness and exercise regime. As I've been told by my doctors, when you have COPD, the doctors would like your oxygen saturation levels to be between 88 and 92. This prevents you from retaining excess 02 that will turn into carbon dioxide. Have a frank talk with your 02 supplier to be sure that you have the proper cannulas and the proper canisters that will match your necessary 02 flow. Also, asking for the proper pull carts for your canisters makes travel so much easier, especially if you are not using a walker.

Oxygen use information, tips, and equipment overview


There are two main tests to determine if supplemental 02 will help your shortness of breath. The first is a non-invasive method of using an Oximeter on your finger. Many of us have these and use them at home on a regular basis. It can read how much oxygen is in your blood. The second is an Arterial Blood Gas (ABG). This test is used to determine if the oxygen in your blood is low. Another method of testing is a 6-minute walk test while having your 02 monitored.

Using a window sign

Those us who are using supplemental oxygen should have been given a cardboard sign to put in the front door or window. Its purpose is to let the Fire Department know that we have both a concentrator and canisters of 02. Your oxygen alone will not start a fire, but if there is a fire and your canisters are exposed to it, they could provide fuel for the fire.

Types of oxygen

There are liquid oxygen and regular condensed 02 along with pulse and continuous flow oxygen. Finding what works best for you depends on how much 02 you require and how long you a canister will last you. Canister sizes will vary depending on your rate and the type of 02 you use.

Swivel connectors

Getting all caught up in tubing is what my life is about these days. Having one 50 continuous cord helps to keep the kinks out provided I have it connected to my cannulas with a swivel connector

Foam for your ears

Wearing cannulas on a regular basis can sometimes make your ears burn. This is an irritation from the plastic and the area behind your ears becomes irritated. Ask your provider for the foam piece that covers your tubing to prevent irritation behind your ear.

Using longer tubing

With the swivel connectors, I can add additional tubing that allows me to walk around my property without having to carry a canister. Few people will understand the freedom of walking out the door without having to carry an extra canister.

Please keep in mind: oxygen tubing goes into the trash when you are finished with them and they are not recyclable.

Tubing changes

Your 02 provider should supply the tubing and it should be changed monthly. Nasal cannulas should be changed at least weekly and more often if you have a cold.

Nasal gel

Using oxygen on a regular basis can make your nasal cavity dry and cause nasal sores. Use a proper nasal gel designed especially for those that use supplemental 02. Nasal gels should not contain and oil products or petroleum.

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