Is There A Problem With The Oxygen Equipment


Something that is often overlooked is the oxygen equipment.

It becomes so normal to the home that it is almost the last thing that is thought of when there is a shortness of breath “event.”  However, it should be one of the first things to check.

There have been a few times that my mom has been extremely short of breath, for no visible reason that has ended up being the equipment.  There have been a few times that there was an “air gap” between the tubing and the machine.  Meaning, it was not plugged in!  There have been a few times that the portable tank has frozen and was not releasing the oxygen, and there have been a few times that the tank was not turned on.

It happens.  Life gets busy.  Moving equipment in and out for travel or simply a trip to the store with a portable unit can present a problem when the caregivers (or patient) forgets to turn it on.  It is important not to “freak out,” but to allow the problem to be fixed and get your shortness of breath under control.  There will be plenty of time after this event is over to figure out why and come up with a plan to keep it from happening again.

Here is a fast check list to make sure that your equipment is working (as best as a caregiver or patient can assess.)

  1. Is there any oxygen flow coming through the cannula?
  2. If not, is the machine on?
    • The machine is on, but there is no oxygen.
      • Is the line plugged in?
      • Is the portable liquid oxygen machine frozen?
    • The machine is not on.
      • Is it turned on?  (Don’t laugh.)
      • If the switch is in the on position, is it plugged in?  (Again, don’t laugh.)
  3. If the machine is on and there is oxygen flowing through the cannula, check to make sure that the setting is correct.  This could get bumped or moved, especially if there are small children or pets around the machine.

If there are no reasons based on these few questions for the severe shortness of breath, a call to your doctor’s office should be the next course of action, or in extremely severe cases dial 911.