Using Oxygen at Home - What You Need to Know (2023)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

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Why might I need to use oxygen at home?

You may need extra oxygen if you are not able to breathe enough oxygen on your own. You need a doctor's order to get oxygen therapy. The order will include how much you need, and how often you need it. Use oxygen as directed.

(Video) Things to Know When Using Oxygen Therapy

What are the types of oxygen supply systems?

Your healthcare provider will pick your oxygen supply based on how much oxygen you need, and how active you are. Oxygen can be supplied the following 3 ways:

  • Compressed oxygen holds oxygen in a metal cylinder (tank) under pressure. The tank can be set to release only the amount of oxygen you need as you breathe. Compressed oxygen tanks are heavy, and are meant to be used when you stay mostly in one place. You may need help to move or secure it. Smaller tanks and wheeled carts are available to help you move with ease, or when you travel.
  • Liquid oxygen is kept chilled inside a small, insulated case. The liquid warms and becomes a breathable gas when you need to breathe in. Liquid oxygen cases are smaller and easy to carry around. You can refill your small liquid oxygen case from a big tank kept in your home. Your oxygen delivery service will fill your large tank every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • An oxygen concentrator is an electric machine that stores oxygen from the air. This machine is heavy and may come with a wheeled cart to help you move it from room to room.

What are the types of oxygen breathing devices?

Each device is connected to the oxygen supply with tubing. The tubing should be long enough to let you move around your house. You may need a humidifier to moisten the oxygen. This may prevent dryness in your nose, mouth, and throat. Ask your healthcare provider if you need a humidifier, and how to attach it to your oxygen supply.

(Video) Getting Started with a Home Oxygen Concentrator

  • A nasal cannula is a 2-pronged plastic tube that fits inside your nostrils. Place one prong in each nostril. Loop the tubing around your ears, or attach it to your eyeglasses to keep it in place. Make sure your cannula fits you well and is comfortable.
  • An oxygen mask is attached to a plastic tube and covers your nose and mouth. It is usually held in place by an elastic strap that wraps around the back of your head. You can use an oxygen mask if you need a lot of oxygen. Your healthcare provider may tell you to use a nasal cannula during the day, and a mask at night. A mask may help if your nose is dry or stuffy.
  • Transtracheal oxygen is given through a small, flexible catheter inserted into an opening in your trachea (windpipe). A necklace holds the catheter in place.

How do I use oxygen safely?

  • Do not use oxygen around heat or flame. Compressed oxygen can catch on fire. Keep the oxygen container 5 feet away from open flames or heaters, such as candles or hot water heaters. Do not use anything flammable, such as cleaning fluids, gasoline, or aerosol sprays near your oxygen. Keep a fire extinguisher and a phone close by in case of a fire. Tell your fire department that you have oxygen in your home if you need to call them for help.
  • Do not smoke while you are using oxygen. Do not let anyone smoke around you.
  • Do not change the flow of your oxygen unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Turn your oxygen container or concentrator off when you are not using your oxygen.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take sedatives while you use oxygen. These may slow your breathing.
  • Put signs on all the doors of your house to let visitors and emergency workers know that oxygen is in use. Tell your electric company that you have electrical medical equipment. They will put you on a priority list to fix your power quickly if it goes out.
  • Follow instructions for use and maintenance of your oxygen equipment. Keep oxygen containers secured in an upright position. Oxygen containers may become damaged if they fall over. An oxygen container may cause serious injury if it breaks.

How do I clean my oxygen supplies?

  • Wash or replace equipment parts as directed. Wash your nasal prongs with soap and water twice a week. Replace your nasal prongs every 2 weeks. Replace your tubing every 2 months, or when it becomes stiff. Change the tubing if moisture appears on the inside of the tube. Moisture can make bacteria grow, and cause infections. Change the cannula and tubing after you have a cold or the flu.
  • Ask your healthcare provider how to clean your oxygen mask or transtracheal catheter. Replace the oxygen mask every 2 weeks.
  • Disinfect the buttons and outside of your oxygen concentrator. Clean your air filter at least once a week with soap and water. Let it air dry. Replace the filter at least once a week. Ask your oxygen supply company to service your concentrator at least once a year. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about how to clean the air filter.
  • Wash your humidifier bottle with soap and warm water between each refill. Rinse and air dry the bottle before you refill it with distilled water. Do not use tap water. Disinfect the outside of the bottle and cap once the inside of the bottle has been washed.

What are some general tips for oxygen use?

  • Keep a backup oxygen supply in case of an emergency. Always keep a backup oxygen tank that does not run on electricity in case there is a power failure. Oxygen may leak out of your container. Ask your healthcare provider if your supply has a tool to reduce wasted oxygen.
  • Use gauze or water-based lubricants to help soothe your skin. Oxygen may dry out your skin, mouth, or throat. Place gauze on top of your ears or under the tubing on your cheeks if they become sore. Use water-based lubricants on your lips and nostrils if they become dry or sore. Do not use oil-based lubricants. They may be flammable.
  • Order new oxygen well before your current supply runs out. Your oxygen company may not deliver on holidays. Ask your healthcare provider for help planning your oxygen needs when you travel.
  • Keep the phone number of your oxygen supply company handy. Place it in an area that you see every day, such as on your fridge. Contact them if you have any problems with your supplies.

Call, or have someone call, your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your breathing becomes fast, or it hurts to inhale.
  • You have sudden chest pain.
  • You are tired, confused, cannot think clearly, or faint.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a headache, your heart is beating fast, and you are shaking.
  • Your breathing is shallow, slow, or more difficult than usual for you.
  • You feel anxious or cannot sit still.
  • Your fingernails or lips turn blue.

When should I call my doctor?

  • The oxygen tubes create sores on your skin, or make you bleed.
  • You have trouble sleeping because you cannot breathe well.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

(Video) Oxygen Concentrator: Setup and Use

Learn more about Using Oxygen at Home

Care guides

  • Air Travel with Oxygen

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

(Video) How to Safely Use Oxygen in Your Home

Medical Disclaimer


What are the rules for having oxygen at home? ›

Safety Tips
  1. No smoking. ...
  2. No e-cigarettes/vaporizing with medical oxygen. ...
  3. Always keep oxygen cylinders at least five feet from gas stoves, candles, electrical devices or other heat sources.
  4. Do not use oil, grease, or petroleum-based lotions or creams near the oxygen equipment.

What are 5 rules that must be followed while oxygen is in use? ›

If you or a loved one is prescribed supplemental oxygen therapy, here's what you need to know to stay safe.
  • Don't Smoke Anywhere Near Oxygen.
  • Keep Oxygen Canisters Away From Open Flames.
  • Switch to a Non-Electric Razor.
  • Pass on Petroleum-Based Lotions and Creams.
  • How to Use Oxygen Safely.
Sep 4, 2021

What are the risks of having oxygen at home? ›

While you are using oxygen, it's not just going into your lungs. It's spreading into the air around you, your hair and clothes, your soft furnishings, and bedclothes. So, the whole room around you becomes oxygen enriched, and this can increase the chance of a fire.

What should you not use while on oxygen? ›

Do not use oil, grease, Vaseline or any other flammable substance on your oxygen equipment or on your skin near the equipment. Use water-based products only. If frost forms on your liquid oxygen equipment, don't allow the frosted parts to come into contact with your skin. It can cause a frostbite skin injury.

Can you use a microwave while on oxygen? ›

DON'T use any electrical appliance while on oxygen.

Can you shower with oxygen on? ›

If you are dependent on oxygen, it is safe to use the oxygen while in the shower. You can drape the oxygen supply hose safely over the shower door, shower rod, or side of the tub. While washing your face, it should be safe to remove the nasal cannula while you do so.

Can I vacuum while on oxygen? ›

Oxygen Safety DO NOT:

This includes E-cigarettes. Charge batteries for E-cigarettes close to the oxygen source. Use electronic equipment such as vacuum cleaners or electric blankets while using oxygen. These need to be at least 5 feet from oxygen.

Can I use a gas stove while on oxygen? ›

Keep sources of heat and flame at least five feet away from where your oxygen unit is being used or stored. Don't use oxygen while cooking with gas. Don't use any electrical appliances such as hair dryers, curling irons, heating pads and electric razors while wearing oxygen.

Can you pump gas while on oxygen? ›

You should also never allow flammable liquids or any other flammable substance on your clothing while using oxygen therapy. Do not pump gas or use hairspray. Be very careful about using rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer, which contains a high amount of rubbing alcohol.

How many liters of oxygen can you be on at home? ›

If you need more than 5 Liters/min of supplemental oxygen, you should discuss with your healthcare provider about other oxygen delivery systems such as a high flow concentrator for oxygen needs beyond 6 Liters/min. You may need humidification with higher flows of oxygen to prevent dryness of your nasal passages.

Does home oxygen help with shortness of breath? ›

Oxygen will not help your breathlessness if your blood oxygen levels are normal. But if you have a condition that means the level of oxygen in your blood is low, oxygen treatment can make you feel better and live longer.

What are the symptoms of too much oxygen from concentrator? ›

Pulmonary effects can present as early as within 24 hours of breathing pure oxygen. Symptoms include pleuritic chest pain, substernal heaviness, coughing, and dyspnea secondary to tracheobronchitis and absorptive atelectasis which can lead to pulmonary edema.

How often should oxygen tubing be changed? ›

Event related examples requiring oxygen tubing replacement include when visibly soiled, when known contamination occurs and/or between residents. Current evidence and standards of practice do not recommend changing oxygen tubing at regular intervals such as weekly or every five days.

Do nasal cannula prongs point up or down? ›

The nasal cannula prongs are slightly curved. Make sure the prong tips curve DOWN into the nose following the natural curve of the nasal passage.

How can I moisturize my nose while on oxygen? ›

Get a Humidifier Bottle for Your Oxygen Delivery System

The frequent oxygen flow causes dry mouth, throat, and dry nose from oxygen. Another thing that you should do is to add a humidifier to the oxygen system. A humidifier acts as a moisturizer for oxygen users.

Does oxygen make you sleepy? ›

Does supplemental oxygen cause side effects? It is important to wear your oxygen as your provider ordered it. If you start to experience headaches, confusion or increased sleepiness after you start using supplemental oxygen, you might be getting too much.

What is the difference between green and clear oxygen tubing? ›

Many patients requiring oxygen therapy prefer the green color of tubing vs. clear because it enhances tube visibility. Choose from a variety of lengths of Green AirLife Crush-Resistant Oxygen Tubing, including 14, 25 and 50-feet lengths based on the user's preference.

What creams can I use while on oxygen? ›

Any kind that doesn't bother you is fine. Generally you're told to avoid petroleum based products because they are flammable. Most of the lotions, including Vaseline Intensive Care are fine.

Should I sleep with oxygen? ›

Using oxygen therapy at night allows your body to get more oxygen into the bloodstream so that you may get a better night's sleep. Your doctor may recommend you do a sleep study to determine whether supplemental oxygen at night is right for you.

How often should you change your nasal cannula? ›

Every 2–4 weeks, replace your cannula or mask. Change every time you get sick. Every month, replace your air filter. Every 2 months, replace your tubing.

Does oxygen at night help during the day? ›

Low oxygen levels during the night can give you a headache otherwise disrupt your sleep. Improved Daytime Functioning is the product of better sleep. Oxygen levels that drop during the night can cause you to wake feeling groggy and out of sorts.

Can you drink water while on oxygen? ›

Oxygen therapy

Do keep nose and mouth healthy. Drink at least 6 to 8 cups of water or juice to keep hydrated. Your mouth and nose may feel dry when on oxygen. Do stay active with oxygen.

What chapstick can you use with oxygen? ›

Do not put any petroleum-based lotions or creams (like Vaseline) on your face or upper chest if oxygen is being used. Use non-petroleum based products such as Nasal Moist, Burt's Bees lip balm and moisturizers, Cann-Ease nasal moisturizer, aloe vera based products, or other water-based moisturizers.

Can you travel with oxygen in a car? ›

To transport an oxygen cylinder, firmly secure it on the floor of the back seat. The car must be well ventilated to prevent oxygen and heat from collecting inside; leave a window open at least an inch or two. Never transport oxygen in the trunk of a car or bed of a truck.

Does an oxygen concentrator use a lot of electricity? ›

These devices extract and concentrate oxygen from the air and deliver it through tubing connected to the nose. Concentrators can use more electricity than a refrigerator, and the cost for the extra electricity can add up quickly.

Can you use nail polish while on oxygen tank? ›

Avoid the use of volatile, flammable materials, such as oils, greases, alcohol, ether, and acetone (e.g., nail polish remover), near clients receiving oxygen.

How long can I use an oxygen concentrator? ›

Most portable oxygen concentrators last between 4 to 7 years. The lifespan of a POC also depends on how well the patient takes care of their portable unit. It's important to regularly clean and maintains a device.

Can I leave my oxygen concentrator on? ›

Yes. Leaving the oxygen concentrator on all night is safe and advisable for people with respiratory conditions and breathing problems. However, you will need to check and ensure that your battery life is enough to have it working throughout the entire night. If not, your machine will most likely turn off on its own.

Can you use an electric blanket when on oxygen? ›

Do not expose your oxygen equipment to electrical appliances (such as electric razors, hair dryers, electric blankets, etc.) Check that all electrical equipment in the area near the oxygen is properly grounded. Keep the oxygen system away from aerosol cans or sprays, including air fresheners or hair spray.

Can you lay down an oxygen concentrator? ›

A portable oxygen concentrator can be safely placed on its side while it's not running, or while it's charging. It can be laid on its side while running, as long as the vents are not blocked.

Is 4 liters of oxygen alot? ›

Rates of 4 liters/minute or greater are considered higher oxygen flow. Liquid systems deliver higher flows of oxygen for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, it is getting more difficult to obtain liquid oxygen systems. Oxygen conserving devices may not deliver enough oxygen.

What is the average setting for an oxygen concentrator? ›

A typical oxygen concentrator may deliver oxygen flows of 0.5–5 L·min1 (low-flow oxygen concentrators), while some models may generate up to 10 L·min1 (high-flow oxygen concentrators) [9, 10].

What oxygen level do you need to survive? ›

Human beings must breathe oxygen . . . to survive, and begin to suffer adverse health effects when the oxygen level of their breathing air drops below [19.5 percent oxygen]. Below 19.5 percent oxygen . . . , air is considered oxygen-deficient.

What are the side effects of being on oxygen? ›

Oxygen therapy is generally safe, but it can cause side effects. They include a dry or bloody nose, tiredness, and morning headaches. Oxygen poses a fire risk, so you should never smoke or use flammable materials when using oxygen. If you use oxygen tanks, make sure your tank is secured and stays upright.

Is 92 oxygen level normal while laying down? ›

A normal resting oxygen level is between 95-100%, and if your levels start to fall around 92%, you may be experiencing hypoxia, difficulty breathing or low oxygen levels.

Does oxygen give you energy? ›

That means that the higher intake of oxygen relieves stress, brings better sleep, and eases muscle aches. Also, it increases energy and recovers you quickly from jet lag and even hangovers. The lack of oxygen on the other side brings the effect of tiredness, low energy, slower recovery, and so on.

What are 3 complications of oxygen therapy? ›

More severe problems can include:
  • Lung damage.
  • Fluid buildup or bursting (rupture) of the middle ear.
  • Sinus damage.
  • Changes in vision, causing nearsightedness, or myopia.
  • Oxygen poisoning, which can cause lung failure, fluid in the lungs, or seizures.

Can you overuse an oxygen tank? ›

If you take in more oxygen than your body needs, it can slow your breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. Too much oxygen can lead to oxygen toxicity or oxygen poisoning. This can happen if you accidentally take in too much supplemental oxygen or use oxygen therapy when you don't need it.

What does low oxygen feel like? ›

When your blood oxygen falls below a certain level, you might experience shortness of breath, headache, and confusion or restlessness. Common causes of hypoxemia include: Anemia.

Are you supposed to clean oxygen tubing? ›

Wash your cannula or mask with a liquid soap and warm water daily. Replace them every 2 to 4 weeks.

How do you clean the tubing on oxygen machine? ›

Wash the cannula/mask in warm, soapy water and then rinse it thoroughly with a solution of 10 parts water and one part vinegar. (Vinegar will kill any bacteria, but will not affect the plastic tubing.) Finally, rinse well with hot water and hang it to dry.

What are the disadvantages of nasal cannula? ›

Disadvantages of nasal cannulas

The main disadvantage of nasal cannulas is that they can sometimes lead to nasal dryness, especially when the patient is using a high flow nasal cannula. There is also a low risk of nasal cannulas causing high oxygen levels, which can be dangerous.

How do you manage oxygen tubing at home? ›

How do I keep from tripping over my oxygen tubing?
  1. Place bright colored tape at 12-inch intervals along the tubing. ...
  2. If you use a walker, crutch(es), or cane to walk, loop the tube around your ring finger. ...
  3. If you do not use a device to help you walk, hold the tubing in your non-dominant hand.

How can I make my nasal cannula more comfortable? ›

Tips for the Most Comfortable Nasal Cannula

Adjust the slider so your tubes are higher and tighter on your cheeks. This can help keep the tubing from moving around as much, thereby reducing excess friction. Use fabric medical tape to tape the tubes securely behind your ears to minimize movement and friction.

What two products should be avoided when a client is using oxygen? ›

Do not use oil, grease, Vaseline or any other flammable substance on your oxygen equipment or on your skin near the equipment. Use water-based products only. If frost forms on your liquid oxygen equipment, don't allow the frosted parts to come into contact with your skin. It can cause a frostbite skin injury.

How do you shower with oxygen? ›

If you are dependent on oxygen, it is safe to use the oxygen while in the shower. You can drape the oxygen supply hose safely over the shower door, shower rod, or side of the tub. While washing your face, it should be safe to remove the nasal cannula while you do so.

What are safety rules for oxygen? ›

Place “Oxygen in Use” signs in visible areas. Never place the tank or machine near an open flame (e.g., matches, lit candles, a stove in use). Keep the oxygen tank at least six feet away. Always turn your oxygen off when not in use.

What oxygen level qualifies for home oxygen? ›

Typically, to qualify for home oxygen therapy, you must have either: An arterial blood gas (PaO2) at or below 55 mm Hg or an oxygen saturation at or below 88%, taken at rest (awake), breathing room air, or.

What level of oxygen can you go home on? ›

A PO2 of 55 or less will qualify you for home oxygen therapy. This is the most accurate test, so this is all the testing that is needed. This is the preferred test to qualify you for home oxygen.

Can you use a hair dryer while wearing oxygen? ›

Keep sources of heat and flame at least five feet away from where your oxygen unit is being used or stored. Don't use oxygen while cooking with gas. Don't use any electrical appliances such as hair dryers, curling irons, heating pads and electric razors while wearing oxygen.

How do you wean off oxygen at home? ›

3) Start with weaning O2 off at rest. O2 Sat at rest should be above 92% most of the time. Patient should go by symptoms and initially measure their O2 Sat every 30-60min. (Go down by 1/min until patient can be without supplemental Oxygen at rest.

Can you live at home with oxygen? ›

Home oxygen therapy is prescribed for some patients who have low oxygen in their blood and need more oxygen than is available from room air alone. Low blood oxygen may be due to a number of chronic, mainly respiratory, conditions. For example, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Is 4 liters of oxygen too much? ›

Oxygen settings of 4 liters per minute or above can cause dryness and bleeding of the lining of the nose. A humidifier attached to your oxygen equipment or certain ointments can help prevent or treat the dryness. For more information, see "Higher Oxygen Flows" in Your Oxygen Equipment.

Is being on 2 liters of oxygen a lot? ›

The normal practice is to adjust O2 flow for patients to be comfortably above an oxygen blood saturation of 90% at rest. It is often, however, the case that patients need more oxygen for exercise. So for example a patient may use 2 L/min O2 at rest, but need 4 L/min with exertion.


1. Oxygen Cylinder Preparation - Update.
(Royal Liverpool Hospitals)
2. Oxygen Tanks: When & How to Use Them
(CPAP & Home Oxygen User Tips)
3. How Many Liters Of Oxygen Per Minute Should You Set Your Concentrator To
(Oxygen Assistant)
4. Living with Oxygen
(NIHR ARC Northwest London)
5. Is it Safe to Use Oxygen Concentrator in a Closed Room? - Oxygen Times
(Oxygen Times)
6. How to use a standard oxygen concentrator


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