How to Talk to Your Family About Supplemental Oxygen

For many COPD patients, supplemental oxygen is a necessary tool to help them breath better and live active lives. Oxygen therapy can relieve feelings of fatigue and reduce COPD flare-ups, while allowing patients to keep up their quality of life. However, using supplemental oxygen can be a hard transition not only for patients but also for their friends and family.

What is oxygen therapy?

Oxygen therapy is one type of treatment for COPD, and although it is common in the hospital, it can also be used at home. There are several devices used to deliver oxygen at home: oxygen concentrators, a liquid system or compressed oxygen. Oxygen is usually delivered through nasal prongs (an oxygen cannula) or a face mask. Your healthcare provider will help you choose the equipment that works best for you.

How can I introduce my family to oxygen therapy?

While it’s important that you fully learn how to use your oxygen device, including how to travel with it, you should also take the time to introduce your family to this new machine, especially for children or grandchildren who are often quick to ask “what is that?” or “why do you have a tube in your nose?”

Many family members might see oxygen as scary and will worry, but you can dispel their anxiety by having an open conversation about why it’s important for you to have it and allow them to ask questions. If you are still adjusting yourself and are not yet comfortable talking about it, encourage them to research the benefits of supplemental oxygen on well-respected websites, like

Another way to familiarize your family with the oxygen is include them in the home set up, show them how to change tanks, and explain the importance of not smoking near the gas.

You can also bring fun to oxygen therapy by naming the delivery device as if it was part of the family.

What other resources can help me learn more?

Lastly, you can join a Better Breathers Club in your community to learn more about using supplemental oxygen and managing your COPD.

Being open to having conversations, honesty in how oxygen helps your symptoms, and even a little silly can be effective ways to help your family understand your COPD and how best to support you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


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