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Using oxygen at home - what to ask your doctor

Definition

Because of problems with your lungs or heart, you will need to use oxygen in your home.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you use your oxygen.

Alternate Names

Oxygen - what to ask your doctor; What to ask your doctor about home oxygen

Questions

When should I use my oxygen?

  • All the time?
  • Only when I'm walking?
  • Only when I’m short of breath?

Is it okay for me to change how much oxygen is flowing out of the tank or oxygen concentrator?

What should I do if I feel more short of breath?

Can my oxygen run out? How can I tell if the oxygen is running out?

  • What do I do if the oxygen is not working? Whom should I call for help?
  • Do I need to have a backup oxygen tank at home? How about when I am out?
  • What symptoms tell me that I am not getting enough oxygen?

Will I be able to take my oxygen with me when I go somewhere? How long will the oxygen last when I leave my home?

Do I need to worry about the electricity going off?

  • What should I do if that happens?
  • How do I prepare for an emergency?
  • How can I arrange to be able to get help quickly?
  • What phone numbers do I need to keep handy?

What can I do if my lips, mouth, or nose become dry? Is it safe to use petroleum jelly (Vaseline)?

How do I stay safe when I have oxygen in my home?

  • Do I need smoke detectors? Fire extinguishers?
  • Can anybody smoke in the room where I have oxygen? How about in my house? What should I do in a restaurant or bar?
  • Can my oxygen be in the same room as a fireplace or wood stove?
  • How far does my oxygen need to be away from electrical equipment? How about electric toothbrushes? Electric toys?
  • Where can I store my oxygen? Do I need to worry about how hot or cold it is?

What do I do about getting oxygen when I travel on an airplane?

  • Can I bring my own oxygen or will my airline provide some? Do I need to call them ahead of time?
  • Will my airline provide oxygen for me when I am in the airport? Or only when I’m on the airplane?
  • How can I get more oxygen when I am in places other than my home town?

Review Date: 2/12/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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