Oxygen cannula issues

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

The little hollow plastic lifeline that helps us breathe can create its own set of issues. Tripping over the hose, catching it on furniture or small children and closing it in doors are only a few of the adventures awaiting the new oxygen user. Trying to stand up while standing on one’s hose and thereby trying to rip one’s ears off is its own special adventure. Unfortunately, it is not all fun and joviality. Wearing the standard over-the-ears cannula can lead to tender spots on the tops of the ears and sore nostrils.

Herein are a few tips and solutions for the more common problems, plus a handful of web links with suggestions ranging from the simple to the … well, you be the judge.

Using the standard cannula, solutions range from lotion or adhesive moleskin to wrapping soft cloth around the over-the-ear tubes. You can also get cannulas with foam strips attached to them. There are also foam tubes that are split so that they can be placed on the side hoses. It is possible to wear the slide adjuster at the back of the head, so that the tubes lie above the ears. I use this method at night, and it seems to work quite well. The tubes can be attached to the sides of a baseball cap or pinned to hair to relieve the ear pressure.

It is also possible to obtain cannulas that are much softer than the regular ones. They can be a bit more expensive, but if the additional comfort will increase the wearing time, they may well be worth it.

Tender nostrils can be helped by a saline-based nasal gel, which is available at your pharmacy. DO NOT use petroleum-based preparations! Oil and oxygen can combine to create a combustible mixture.

There is a rather innovative solution for those who wear glasses and who also require supplemental oxygen. The oxygen supply tube runs from the oxygen source to the back of the wearer’s neck, and then splits to attach to the earpieces of a pair of eyeglasses.  The oxygen is delivered to the nostrils through small tubes that run along the sides of the nose and then curve upward.

A highly efficient oxygen delivery system consists of what is known as Transtracheal Oxygen, or TTO. It consists of a device that delivers oxygen directly into the trachea through an opening in the front of the neck. It is held in place by a band or chain around the neck. It is a bit of a drastic step, but the device can be hidden by a high collar or a scarf.

However you choose to wear your oxygen delivery system, be sure to wear it when you should. Please do not let embarrassment keep you from wearing it in public. As I said at the beginning, it is indeed a lifeline. It will help to save the right side of your heart from working too hard, enlarging and growing weak, and contributing to congestive heart failure. It also will help to preserve the precious memories stored in your brain cells.

And, maybe somebody will open a door for you.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearableportable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

We also have included a convenient contact form below if you want us to reach out to you. Thank you. 

*By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.

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