If you have a respiratory disease that makes you feel short of breath most of the time, your doctor may prescribe home oxygen for you to use. You can buy or rent a home oxygen machine as well as a small portable unit to take with you whenever you leave your home. The supplemental oxygen may help you breathe easier, so your quality of life improves and you can stay active and mobile. However, oxygen can be dangerous, so you should keep the following tips in mind.
Use As Prescribed
Oxygen should be considered a medication, and just like any other drug, you should use it only as your doctor prescribes. Your doctor will tell you the flow rate, or liters per minute, you should use. You may be tempted to increase the flow rate when you become short of breath, but doing so might cause more harm than good. Instead, you should let your doctor know if you are still short of breath on your prescribed setting.
The doctor may want to adjust your other medications, or check you for a lung infection. You may want to buy an inexpensive home pulse oximeter that measures the oxygen saturation in your blood. If your reading is low while wearing oxygen, your doctor will want to know. Pulse oximeter readings during rest and during exercise help your doctor determine the optimum amount of oxygen to prescribe for your condition.
You probably know it isn't safe to smoke around oxygen. That's because it is flammable, and causes fire to burn much more quickly. A fire can spread out of control faster than you can react. You never want to smoke while wearing your oxygen equipment. If you can't stop smoking, you should do it in a different room. Cigarettes aren't the only thing you need to be cautious about, as it's easy to overlook all the times you come in contact with flames or sparks during the day.
You should keep your oxygen equipment away from your fireplace, candles, and the flame from your gas stove. You should also be leery of things that could spark and ignite a fire. For instance, you shouldn't use an electric razor while wearing your oxygen, or sleep under an electric blanket. If you go out in public while wearing your portable tank, you'll have to be alert to other people smoking near you, and you should avoid getting too close to fire and electrical dangers.
Be Aware Of Safety Hazards
There are different types of home oxygen you can get depending on your particular situation. Each one has its own safety considerations. If you have compressed oxygen tanks in your home, be sure to store them upright in a stable stand. Tanks pose a hazard if they are dropped and damaged. Since the tank is under pressure, it could take flight if it gets punctured and hurt you or damage your home.
If you have a liquid oxygen system you use to fill a portable container, you'll need to be cautious you do not burn your skin because liquid oxygen is very cold. A concentrator may be the easiest system to use, but since it has to be plugged into the wall, the cord may pose a tripping hazard. Plus, a concentrator won't work when the power goes out, so you'll need a backup, such as a portable unit, on standby.
Fortunately, when you get home oxygen, your equipment is delivered and maintained by a home health company, such as Home Medix Inc, that will train you and your family members on how to use it properly, so you stay safe and get the maximum benefit from using it.
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