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Stage 3: Needing Oxygen 24 Hours a Day

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This information was reviewed and approved by Jeffrey James Swigris, DO, MS (9/1/2017).

Stage 3 of IPF is when oxygen is needed 24 hours a day, with activity, at rest and during sleep. 

What should I focus on when I am needing oxygen at rest, activity and sleep?

  • Work with your health care provider in the oxygen prescription change and the best oxygen system to meet your needs of using oxygen 24 hours a day.

  • Learn about stationary oxygen systems and portable systems.

  • Work with the DME company regarding the change in oxygen needs.

  • Plan for oxygen use with activities when away from home and traveling. Plan ahead for travel.

  • Use your pulse oximeter to monitor your oxygen level. Maintain an oxygen saturation equal to or greater than 89 percent when you rest and are active.

  • Ask about the medications that may be used for IPF. Learn the dose and time the medicine is taken, how it may be helpful and what side effects to watch for.

  • Your health care provider may discuss palliative care. Ask any questions you have.

  • Remember to continue living a full life with IPF activities.

    • Oxygen is now important 24 hours a day and with regular exercise. Regular exercise is still important, and oxygen will help you feel better while you exercise.

  • If transplant is an option for you, make sure you are evaluated at a transplant center.


What to expect from the person with IPF in this stage

  • The person with IPF in Stage III is short of breath with exertion or activity. Even though they need oxygen at rest, they will not be short of breath at rest.

  • Cough can be frequent and bothersome. It may only occur when the person with IPF talks for long periods of time or when they are exerting.

  • Fatigue is not uncommon at this stage and can be challenging to treat. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of high quality sleep can help. Napping is okay and encouraged.

  • Being prescribed oxygen for use 24 hours per day is perceived by many people with IPF as yet another major step in the wrong direction. But, even 24/7, oxygen is not a death sentence! Nonetheless, people with IPF may feel afraid, anxious or depressed and be short-tempered with this new stage.

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