197587 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Oxygen Therapy


    Oxygen therapy is a method of passing extra oxygen to the lungs. It is done to increase the level of oxygen in your blood.
    Lung Respiration
    Lungs respiration
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Procedure

    Oxygen therapy is needed when you cannot get enough oxygen breathing normal air. It is most often needed because of a health problem or injury. Some common reasons that people need oxygen therapy include:

    Possible Complications

    Oxygen therapy is very safe. There is an increased risk of fire around oxygen but basic steps will help avoid this:
    • Keep the oxygen supply away from open flames.
    • Do not smoke. Do not allow anyone to smoke around you.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Oxygen therapy is only given if you have low oxygen levels in your blood. Your doctor will measure your blood oxygen levels. This can be done with a quick scan on your fingers.
    A prescription for oxygen will be needed. The prescription will include:
    • How much oxygen is needed
    • How the oxygen will be given
    • When to use it

    Description of the Procedure

    Oxygen therapy is most often given with a nasal cannula or a face mask. A nasal cannula is a tube that is put just under your nostrils. If you have a stoma, oxygen can also be given through a tube directly to the stoma.
    Oxygen may be delivered through one of three systems:
    • Concentrators—electrical device that pull oxygen from the air
    • Compressed gas systems—available in steel or aluminum tanks (including small tanks that can be carried)
    • Liquid systems—include both a large, stationary component and a smaller, portable component to carry oxygen

    How Long Will It Take?

    The amount of oxygen therapy is based on your condition. It may be needed for a few hours a day or 24 hours a day.
    Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .

    Will It Hurt?

    Oxygen therapy is painless.

    Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Cough, trouble breathing, or chest pain
    • Gray/blue tint around eyes, lips, and gums
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Loss of appetite
    • You are having trouble delivering the oxygen
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    American Lung Association http://www.lungusa.org/

    Children's Physician Network http://www.cpnonline.org/


    Canadian Lung Association http://www.lung.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html


    Bateman NT, Leach RM. ABC of oxygen. BMJ . 1998;317:798-801. Available at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/317/7161/798 . Accessed February 28, 2007.

    Bailey RE. Home oxygen therapy for treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am Fam Physician . 2004;70(5). Available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040901/cochrane.html . Accessed February 28, 2007.

    Oxygen therapy. American thoracic society website. Available at: http://patients.thoracic.org/information-series/en/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf . Accessed November 9, 2012.

    Supplemental oxygen. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/living-with-copd/supplemental-oxygen.html . Accessed November 9, 2012.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.