If you struggle with a lung condition like emphysema or COPD, one treatment your doctor may recommend is supplemental oxygen. Breathing in a higher concentration of oxygen, delivered from an oxygen canister, can make your breaths more productive, even if they remain shallow. However, there are a few key things you should know after you're prescribed oxygen.
You can often have the equipment delivered to you.
The equipment used to deliver your oxygen may seem a little foreign and confusing to you at first. But usually, when your doctor prescribes oxygen, you can have it delivered to you by the company that makes the oxygen tanks. Then, while they are there, they can set everything up for you, explain how it works, and answer any questions. It is much easier to learn how to use your oxygen equipment when it is right there in front of you and when there's a trained technician present to guide you.
You can use a pulse oximeter to determine how much oxygen you need.
A pulse oximeter is a little device that you stick on your finger. It measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. Don't worry; it does not pierce your skin in order to do this! You can rely on the results of the pulse oximeter to determine how much oxygen you need to use. For example, if the pulse oximeter suggests your oxygen levels are low, you know you need to breathe in a little more oxygen. Over time, you'll learn how much oxygen you need to keep the oximeter's reading in the "healthy" range.
You need to keep the tank upright.
This is one of the most important things to remember when using an oxygen tank. You need to keep it upright or it won't deliver the oxygen properly. This is why you're usually recommended to keep the oxygen tank in its case or carrier. Don't remove it from the carrier unless you're absolutely certain you can keep it upright.
You must keep the tank away from heat and sparks.
Oxygen is flammable. So, you will need to keep your oxygen tank away from heat sources, such as an open flame, lit cigarettes, and candles. Do not use a curling iron or hairdryer while using your oxygen, either.
It may take you a little time to adapt to your oxygen tank, but be patient. Supplemental oxygen can really improve your quality of life. Contact a health professional for more information on being prescribed oxygen.