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Nasal Cannula


Beginning oxygen therapy requires a way for you to receive the oxygen. Typically, either through a mask, tracheostomy or nasal cannula. A nasal cannula is how most users will be receiving oxygen during oxygen therapy. The nasal cannula is a flexible tube that is placed underneath the nose with two prongs that are placed inside the nostrils, through which the oxygen is delivered. Because the oxygen nose piece is less invasive than a face mask and allows the patient to talk and eat freely, nasal cannulas are the most common method for administering oxygen therapy.


Placement of the nasal cannula is important and choosing the right size cannula is another essential part of ensuring that you have the most comfortable fit. Without the correct size and type of nasal cannula, you may experience more discomfort from the oxygen nose piece than you should.


To find the right nasal cannula placement, insert the prongs of your oxygen nose piece into your nostrils, then take the oxygen tubes on either side of your face and lift the tubes, placing them over your ears like you would glasses. Then, use the slider that holds the tubes where they come together under your chin to adjust the fit. The tubes of your nasal cannula should fit snugly over the tops of your ears and against your jaw and chin. You should have enough room to fit two fingers between the tubing and your chin for the most comfortable nasal cannula fit. If you are able to wear it comfortably after a couple uses, you are wearing it correctly.



Since there are different sizes of nasal cannulas available, it is important to choose the correct size for your nostril size and shape. The oxygen nose piece should fit snugly into your nostrils without coming out, but it is important to make sure it does not go too far back into the nostril either. With proper nasal cannula placement, the oxygen nose piece should feel comfortable when placed inside the nostrils, without any rubbing or pinching. Rubbing against your nostrils probably indicates that the oxygen nose piece is too large, while pinching indicates that it is the wrong size for your nose shape.


Nasal Cannula Tips

If you find that you are experiencing discomfort, irritation or slipping while wearing your nasal cannula, you may want to try some of the following tips. It may be that your nasal cannula placement is not quite right, or you may need to try a few modifications to find the most comfortable nasal cannula set-up for you. Here are some things you can try.


· Adjust the slider so your tubes are higher and tighter on your cheeks. This can help keep the tubing from moving around as much, thereby reducing excess friction.

· Use fabric medical tape to tape the tubes securely behind your ears to minimize movement and friction.

· Use fabric medical tape or oxygen tube covers to relieve any friction or irritation you experience between the tubes and your skin.

· Try switching to a softer or thinner tubing, which can relieve irritation and pressure on your face and ears.

· Try a different nasal cannula placement by turning your nasal cannula so that the tubes go down the back of your neck with the slider resting behind your head at the base of your neck.


If, after trying each of the tips above, you still find that you are unable to find the most comfortable nasal cannula placement, you may need some additional solutions. Some people experience skin irritation and nasal dryness with nasal cannula use. Thankfully, most of these complications can be resolved easily with the following solutions.

· Humidified oxygen: Can help relieve dry nasal passages or minimize nose bleeds from oxygen use.

· Saline spray: An effective solution for dry nasal passages and nosebleeds resulting from oxygen use.

· Oxygen tube covers: Reusable covers that can comfortably protect your skin from irritation caused by friction from the tubing.

· Water-based lubricant: Helps relieve irritation and soreness from the oxygen nose piece rubbing the insides of the nostrils when applied in a thin layer on the ends of the prongs.

· Make sure you clean you nasal cannula daily with a rubbing alcohol or by soaking them in warm water with a minimal amount of dish soap and regular white vinegar. Be sure to rinse it out thoroughly with hanging it to dry before using it again.

· Also ensure you replace the nasal cannula every few weeks.


Part of this blog was published by Inogen

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