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What To Expect During Oxygen Therapy

During an emergency—such as a serious accident, possible heart attack, or other life-threatening event—you might be started on oxygen therapy right away.

While you're in the hospital, your doctor will check on you to make sure you're getting the right amount of oxygen. Nurses or respiratory therapists also may assist with the oxygen therapy.

If you're having oxygen therapy at home, a home equipment provider will help you set up the oxygen therapy equipment at your house.

Trained staff will show you how to use and take care of the equipment. They'll supply the oxygen and teach you how to safely handle it.

Because oxygen poses a fire risk, you'll need to take certain safety steps. Oxygen isn't explosive, but it can worsen a fire. In the presence of oxygen, a small fire can quickly get out of control. Also, the cylinder that compressed oxygen gas comes in can explode if it's exposed to heat.

Your home equipment provider will give you a complete list of safety steps that you'll need to follow at home and in public. For example, while on oxygen, you should:

  • Never smoke or be around people who are smoking
  • Never use paint thinners, cleaning fluids, gasoline, aerosol sprays, and other flammable materials
  • Stay at least 5 feet away from gas stoves, candles, and other heat sources

When you're not using the oxygen, keep it in a large, airy room. Never store compressed oxygen gas cylinders and liquid oxygen containers in small, enclosed places, such as in closets, behind curtains, or under clothes.

Oxygen containers let off small amounts of oxygen. These small amounts can build up to harmful levels if they're allowed to escape into small spaces.

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February 24, 2012