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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Using oxygen

Using oxygen for asthma

Of the 12 times Kitty and Son #2 have been hospitalized for asthma, they have all included oxygen. Yet there are different ways it is administered.

I was reminded of this when Hubby was telling me about being in the hospital last week with a family member. Because of our many experiences with oxygen, he noticed that the family member's oxygen rate was only at 89%. It should be closer to 98%. This family member was sleeping, and was using a nasal cannula (a thin tube with a small nozel that fits inside each nostril). Hubby noticed the family member was breathing through their mouth, instead of their nose, so the nasal cannula wasn't helping. Hubby notified the nurse and asked her to switch the family member to an oxygen mask. I love my Hubby, what a great guy! This ended up being a better delivery system, since the mask covers the nose and mouth.

Sounds simple, right? Well, the nasal cannula and oxygen mask are used for different levels of oxygen use. The mask is usually used when patients are on a higher delivery of oxgyen, around 6 liters or above. The nasal cannula can be used for less than that. It depends on how many liters of oxygen you're on as to whether you get the mask or cannula.

Usually, when one of the kids were admitted, they would be first put on a high delivery of oxygen (6 liters) and thus the mask. Later, they try to wean the kids down by giving less oxgen every day, and then switch them to the cannula.

A few things to keep in mind is that even with pediatric sized cannulas, they can be really irritating and cause problems. We have had times when the respiratory therapist snip the tubes, so they're a bit smaller and don't go as far up the kid's nostrils.

Also, with oxygen blowing up your nose day after day, there's a good chance of getting a bloody nose. Not a good thing when you have tiny tubes trying to shoot oxygen up the nostril. So you can ask your nurse for a 'bubbler'. It's a tiny water filled box that they can attach to the oxygen tubing. It literally bubbles and sends a small amount of moisture into the oxygen to help moisturize the inside of the nose.

If you do have to be sent home with a tank (I always hated that......) there are several options. They have tiny little portable tanks that fit in a holder and can be slung on the shoulder if you need to go out. An oxygen concentrator is used if you are going to be on oxygen for a longer period of time. It concentrates regular room air, turning it into oxygen. Also, there are the regular old tanks.

Of course there are precautions around oxygen. I remember the nurses wouldn't let the kids use any Chapstick, because it was petroleum based and could spark a fire. Great. Also, no open flames - scented candles or smoking - not that we smoke. Apparently some people do that are on oxygen!

Anyway, if you ever need to be on oxygen, there's a few hints. It's not as scary as it seems, and it is ever so helpful when you can actually breathe! I'm a little picky when it comes to breathing and my kids.....I like it when they can breathe.

Happy breathing.

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