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Oxygen Therapy at Home: How to Stay Safe

Published on September 26, 2022

3 minutes

Oxygen is a vital part of life. It feeds our brains and bodies, and we must get enough of it to maintain a healthy equilibrium.

But for people who can’t get enough oxygen, the fallout can be swift and dangerous. Lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, also called hypoxemia, can take an extreme toll on your body and may leave you short of breath, headachy, faint, or with blue-tinged extremities.1 Dire cases often result in impaired function of the heart and brain, and if left untreated, may even be fatal. 

Fortunately, most cases of hypoxemia will go away with treatment, the most common and effective of which is oxygen therapy. 

What is Oxygen Therapy?

Supplemental oxygen is provided by a device such as a tank of liquid or gas oxygen or an oxygen concentrator, which draws oxygen directly from the air. The pure oxygen is received via a nasal cannula, a mask that goes over the mouth and nose, or an oxygen tent. Oxygen tanks and concentrators also come in portable versions, which you can carry with you while undergoing your oxygen therapy.2

Oxygen therapy can be highly beneficial for treating a range of conditions, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary and cystic fibrosis
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Cluster headaches

Using Oxygen Safely

Believe it or not, supplemental oxygen is considered a prescription medication for individuals with hypoxemia. While some people may only need it while sleeping or exercising, others need it throughout the day.

Before undergoing oxygen therapy, your doctor should assess how much you need based on your blood oxygen levels. They can do this by testing your blood directly or through the skin via a device that clips to your toe, finger, or earlobe.

Pure oxygen doesn’t have the same chemical makeup as atmospheric air, which is why it’s essential to know how to use it correctly. Here are some tips you’ll need to undergo oxygen therapy safely.

Never smoke while using oxygen

Oxygen is highly combustible: it allows fire to ignite more easily and burn more intensely. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home, especially not near your oxygen device.

Stay away from heat sources and electrical appliances

Because of its explosive properties, oxygen users should also stay at least 6-10 feet away from all heat sources and electrical appliances that could cause a spark. These include stoves and ovens, lighters, candles, fireplaces, toasters, hairdryers, electric blankets, motorized tools, and so on.

Beware of flammable products

Once again, flammability means avoiding products that could exacerbate the fire risk. You might not think that lotions, ointments, and other home care products would be an issue, but many of these fluids can contain petroleum, a flammable gasoline byproduct.

Maintain your smoke detectors

This is just a good home safety practice—but be sure to keep your smoke detectors in good working condition and have a fire extinguisher on the premises.

Store your device safely

When storing your oxygen delivery device, make sure it’s turned off and/or unplugged, and keep it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. 

Be sure to read the instructions on your oxygen device before use, and if you have any additional questions, consult your doctor, or get in touch with us today.