When do I need to wear oxygen?

At our last support group we were blessed to have Lincare Oxygen Company come by and discuss oxygen with us. The support group discussed portable oxygen concentrator vs oxygen tanks. We also talked about pulsating dose vs continuous flow oxygen. All this information is great, assuming you know when you need to wear the oxygen your physician ordered.

Let’s step back and  look at when you need to be thinking about using your oxygen.  What sort of sign and symptom will you see; and how will you feel? What does the 6 minute walk test really saying? Let’s look at Mr X and the issues he experienced when he first was told to wear oxygen.

Case Study: Mr X is Short of Breath

Mr X just completed a 6 minute walk. This is the results of his test. On room air  his saturation are 94%.  He started his walk on room air, however at 1 minutes 53 seconds, his saturation dropped to 86% and Mr X was placed on 2 liter per minute.

He continued his walk on 2 liter per minute and at 2 minutes 40 seconds his saturation dropped to 87% and Mr X was placed on 4 liter per minute. Mr X was able to complete the 6 minute walk on 4 LPM of continuous flow oxygen with his saturation greater than 88%.

Several days later, Mr X’s wife calls saying he is short of breath. He reports wearing his oxygen when he is exercising. But does not think he needs it while he is just walking around the home.  Sometimes Mr X gets short of breath walking to the mailbox, or talking  a shower. He is looking for an inhaler that will reduce the shortness of breath.

Mr X heard he was to wear his oxygen when exercising. Which is true, however, in only 1 minute and 53 seconds of walking without oxygen his saturation dropped below the save range of 88%. In this case, we need to ask; what can Mr X do in  1 min and 53 seconds?   Answer is not much. Mr X needs to be wearing his oxygen almost all the time. Walking to the mailbox, takes longer than 2 minutes for him, which is why he needs his oxygen to go to the mailbox.

So how much oxygen should Mr X be wearing? Based on his 6 minute walk, if he is going to be walking for about 3 minutes, he needs to be on 4 liters per minute. Mr X shortness of breath can be taken care of by using the correct liter flow of his oxygen. The right amount of oxygen is important for Mr X’s health. From the minute we were born, every person is addicted to oxygen. Some just need more than others.

Please tell me and others your oxygen story. After all we are all here to learn from each other. Feel free to ask any questions. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.


Our next Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group is Feb 3rd, 2017.

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