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Addressing Concerns About Using Oxygen

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This information was reviewed and approved by Kristen E. Holm, PhD, MPH (3/1/2019).

Using supplemental oxygen is common for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Using oxygen helps manage COPD symptoms and can prolong your life, but oxygen also can be challenging.


Concerns about Using Oxygen

Here are some of the things we have heard many people say about using oxygen:

  • "When I wear oxygen, people view me as a sick person."

  • "Using oxygen means jumping through lots of hoops with insurance and the medical supply company."

  • "It is a constant, heavy, tangling companion."

  • "It frightens children, or at least I worry that it does."

  • "It can be uncomfortable to wear and use."

  • "I worry about supply. What if I run out? How will the airlines handle it? Will I be able to get it where I'm going?"

  • "I feel it's the only thing people can see when they look at me."


Things You Can Do to Make Using Oxygen Easier

These are all very real concerns that need to be addressed. We all need oxygen, and it is a challenge that you need to get it this way. Yet, there are things that can make it easier.

  • Give it time: Can you do more when you use supplemental oxygen? Once you experience some of the positives that go along with using supplemental oxygen, you may focus less on the drawbacks. If the positives don't outweigh the negatives, then don't keep it a secret. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.

  • Talk to others: Talk to other COPD patients, join a COPD support group and talk to your friends and family. Then take these ideas up with your doctor.

  • Don't stop wearing your oxygen: Unless this is advised by your doctor.


Acceptance of Oxygen

Using supplemental oxygen can make you feel less short of breath and more energetic. However, no matter how much oxygen improves your COPD symptoms, you will not be able to do as much in one day as you did before COPD. It is important to acknowledge this, accept this and learn to accept help from your family, friends and health care providers.

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