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Patient Resources: Oxygen FAQ

What are some safety considerations while using oxygen in the home?

Upon delivery each oxygen patient receives a copy of our "Oxygen Safety Tips", please refer to the link to see a copy of it.

How can I tell if my oxygen tank is full?

Maximum oxygen tank pressure varies based upon both the size of the cylinder and the temperature of it's surroundings. As a general rule if the gauge reads anywhere above 1900 PSI your tank is "full".

What do I do if I have a power outage and I am on an oxygen concentrator?

We provide all of our patients with a back-up system for use in the case of an emergency. In the event of a electrical power outage, we advise all of our patients to switch to their back up system immediately and call us so that, if necessary, we can deliver an additional supply.

What kind of oxygen systems do you offer?

We offer gas and liquid oxygen in a variety of delivery methods. Our certified clinical personnel will evaluate you and suggest the most appropriate system based on your lifestyle and clinical needs.

Do you make travel arrangements for oxygen patients?

Yes, our staff will work with our patients to accommodate your travel needs. We ask our patients to call us at least two to three weeks in advance to ensure all your needs are addressed.

How do you measure how much oxygen I have and when do I need oxygen?

The oxygen level in your blood is measured directly by drawing a sample of arterial blood. Arterial blood has just passed through the lungs and carries a replenished oxygen supply. The amount of oxygen is measured two ways.

One is through an arterial gas study. For this study blood is drawn to see the level of the pressure of oxygen in your blood. The arterial oxygen, called "PO2", should be above 80 in healthy people at sea level.

The other way is the "arterial oxygen saturation" using an oximeter device that fits on a finger. Oximetry reports the percentage of red blood cells that are carrying oxygen. A blood sample does not have to be taken when using oximeter. Healthy people have an oxygen saturation above 95% at sea level.

Your need for oxygen is guided, in part, by measurement of the arterial blood oxygen level. A PO2 level of 55 measured by arterial blood gas or a saturation of 88% measured by an oximeter qualifies a patient for home oxygen. Even if a patient has normal oxygen levels when resting they may qualify for home oxygen if the oxygen level falls significantly with exercise, or if nighttime monitoring shows a fall in oxygen level with sleep.

Is it possible to become addicted to oxygen?

Actually, everyone is "addicted" to oxygen as it is required for life. However, many patients think that the need for supplemental oxygen increases the longer it is used. Fortunately that's not the case. The use of supplemental oxygen does not increase over time unless your condition deteriorates. When the lungs are not able to keep up with the body's requirements, your physician may order supplemental oxygen therapy to ensure that the body's organs function properly or as best as they can.

Will I ever be able to stop using oxygen once I start?

Sometimes improvement of lung conditions allow a patient to decrease their demand for supplemental oxygen. For example, if a patient started using oxygen during a time when they had a worsening of their lung symptoms, medical care may allow them to improve over a short period of time and they may end up no longer requiring oxygen or the use may be less. If a patient has low oxygen levels when their disease is stable will probably require long term home oxygen. Unfortunately, the body can't build up a large storage supply of oxygen. The oxygen level falls back to a low level within 10 minutes after oxygen is stopped, regardless of whether the oxygen has been worn for an hour or 12 hours.

What happens if I am off oxygen for a while?

If it is for a short period of time, usually nothing happens. If you are short of breath while off of oxygen your symptoms may worsen.

How do I use oxygen outside of the house for work or when traveling?

There are many lightweight portable oxygen systems that allow you to be active while away from your main oxygen supply. Portable oxygen systems vary in size, weight, and convenience. Lighter units can be carried on a shoulder strap or concealed in an over the- shoulder bag others are pulled in a lightweight wheeled tank holder.

Oxygen-conserving pulse devices that supply oxygen only when a patient breathes are often used to extend the duration of portable oxygen tanks.

Can I smoke with oxygen on?

No. While Oxygen is not explosive or even flammable it does SUPPORT COMBUSTION. This means it makes any fire burn more quickly. If you smoke with your oxygen on, you run the risk of igniting your oxygen tubing and sustaining burns to your face.

No one should smoke cigarettes around you and you should stay at least 8 feet away from any open flame. Do not use oxygen around any open gas flame such as a gas barbecue or gas burners.

I do not breathe through my nose, so how will the oxygen get to my lungs when I use a nasal cannula?

When oxygen runs into your nose it fills the nasal cavity and back of the throat. Every time you breathe in, regardless of if it is through your mouth or through your nose the oxygen will get pulled into the lungs. The physical principle that draws the oxygen down into the lungs is called the "Venturi Effect".

Can I change my oxygen liter flow when I do not feel well?

You should not change the liter flow because it is prescribed by you physician. In COPD, too much oxygen may be detrimental and actually cause a patients breathing to worsen because it depresses the stimulus to breath that comes from lower oxygen levels. If you think there is a problem with the amount of oxygen you are getting, then contact your doctor's office.

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