Health

What to know about home oxygen therapy

Home oxygen therapy involves breathing in air that contains more oxygen than normal through a mask or tube connected to a device in your home.

Who can benefit from home oxygen therapy?

According to NHS, home oxygen therapy can be useful for people who do not have enough oxygen in their blood.

It can help with conditions such as:

1. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

2. pulmonary fibrosis

3. heart failure

4. severe long-term asthma

5. pulmonary hypertension

6. cystic fibrosis

7. breathing problems caused by a combination of being obese and having an underlying condition.

Home oxygen therapy can help with symptoms such as:

1. breathlessness

2. feeling tired all the time

3. memory problems

4. coughing.

Getting assessed for home oxygen therapy

Your doctor will refer you to a specialist clinic if they think your symptoms can be helped by home oxygen therapy.

To check the amount of oxygen in your blood, you may have a blood test and an oxygen sensor may be attached to your finger or earlobe (a pulse oximetry test).

You may also be asked to breathe into a device that checks how well your lungs are working. This test is called spirometry.

Using home oxygen therapy

The main ways of using home oxygen therapy are through:

1. short tubes placed in your nostrils, this is called a nasal cannula

2. a mask over your nose and mouth.

Some people may need a tube inserted into an opening made in the front of their neck (a tracheostomy) or a tube placed in their mouth and down their windpipe.

There are 3 types of devices that can be used to give you oxygen:

1. an oxygen concentrator

2. large oxygen cylinders

3. portable cylinders.

An engineer will install the equipment and explain how to use it safely.

Oxygen concentrator machine

An oxygen concentrator is recommended if you need to have oxygen for most of the day (including when you’re asleep).

The machine is about the size of a home printer and plugs into an electrical socket.

Large oxygen cylinders

Oxygen cylinders will probably be prescribed if you only need oxygen for a short time, for example, if you need to relieve sudden periods of breathlessness.

Portable oxygen cylinders

It may be possible to use a small, portable oxygen cylinder outside your home. This is called portable oxygen or ambulatory oxygen.

Most portable oxygen cylinders weigh around 2kg and are small enough to fit inside a small backpack or shopping trolley. This size cylinder holds just under 2 hours’ worth of oxygen.

Portable oxygen cylinders are not suitable for everyone.

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