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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.


  • Magilli
    1 year ago

    I’m in the process of deciding on supplying my
    own supplemental oxygen: can u be more specific in explaining the difference between
    liquid oxy. and compressed oxygen…
    understanding of the actual processes is that
    the liquid is held in a proper tank under pressure with a regulator and when the valve is opened, oxygen as a gas is released. This might be a method of filling smaller tanks with
    compressed O2……again, i’m commenting here as i’m trying to increase my knowledge.

    I’m also mulling facts about medical oxygen as opposed to welders’ O2; as long as the purity is above 88%, and the holding tanks and regulators have been cleaned properly,
    the product can be used by either….

    And finally, the cost. I can buy a 110 cuft
    oxygen cylinder for $300C$ and a fill for
    $35C; i still would need a method of transferring the product to smaller cylinders for personal intake, probably with a Bonzai
    regulator, and nose cannulas. Wondering if this is the most cost effective method??

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Magilli and thanks for your post. It sounds like you’re pretty well versed in commercial gas supply. You may want to look over this article on oxygen: It provides some of the basics for oxygen (cylinders, liquid and concentrators) and may help you to make decisions in your evaluative process.
    Although you will want to discuss this directly with your physician, I would discourage you from utilizing industrial grade oxygen (welder’s supply). There is a genuine and important difference (in purity) between the two grades and types. If you’re going to breathe the oxygen, it must be medical grade. That will keep you completely safe! As well, ‘transfilling’ oxygen between cylinders and source cylinders is a dangerous practice and usually regulated by law. You will want to discuss this with your local fire department and/or regulatory agencies that govern oxygen usage in the home. I’m sure you will also want to look into oxygen concentrators. If suitable for your condition, concentrators obviate the need for cylinders in the home. Please do check back and let us know how you’re doing and good luck!. All the best, Leon (site moderato)

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